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February 20, 2015 at 11:57am

Massing of the Colors in Tacoma

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Begun in New York City on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1922 as a patriotic ceremony, the Massing of the Colors has become an annual event that salutes national pride and recognizes military service and sacrifice.

On Feb. 22, the Puget Sound Chapter of the Military Order of World Wars (MOWW) will sponsor the area's annual Massing of the Colors Ceremony. The event will begin at 3 p.m. at Stadium High School in Tacoma. Retired Maj. Gen. John Hemphill serves as the ceremony's grand marshal.

Active, Reserve and National Guard units, along with Senior and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets; armed services auxiliary organizations; state militias; veteran and civic groups; police, sheriff and fire departments; and Boy and Girl Scout organizations with a unit and American Flag are invited and urged to attend. The event is free and open to the public.

The ceremony typically begins with a march in of the various color guard units, followed by an invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the national anthem and reading of the MOWW preamble. After remarks by the guest speaker and commander of the hosting MOWW chapter, the flags are blessed in honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, followed by the playing of "Taps." The colors are then retired.

Founded in 1919, MOWW is comprised of commissioned officers, warrant officers and flight officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, along with officers of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Public Health Service.

The New York chapter of the organization inherited the responsibility for conducting the Massing of the Colors in 1927 after the original organization - a group of military officers, veterans and civic leaders known as the Society of the Massing of the Colors - disbanded. Now, chapters around the country conduct the ceremony each year.

The Puget Sound Chapter, founded in 2001 with the merger of the Tacoma and Seattle chapters, is the only chapter in the Pacific Northwest and includes Alaska, Oregon and Idaho. Its missions include patriotic education, ROTC programs and, of course, the annual Massing of the Colors ceremony.

Each June, the chapter sponsors the Northwest Youth Leadership Conference at Pacific Lutheran University, and its flag program helps educate school children around the region about significance of the National flag and other flags. The chapter also sponsors 52 Junior and Senior ROTC programs in its region, including Alaska and American Samoa, and holds an annual banquet to honor cadets who have excelled in their programs.

Organizations wishing to take part in the processional should call Col. Carroll Dickson at 253.566.5870.

Filed under: Community, Military, Tacoma, Ceremony,
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