Sword ceremony emphasizes NCOs role maintaining good order, discipline
January 15, 2009
By Don Dees
As a veteran Soldier, I appreciate the pomp and circumstance of military ceremonies. Last week, I was privileged to serve as narrator in a ceremony honoring a pair of professional NCOs serving in the Belvoir community.
After the ceremony, I reflected on the novelty of what was likely to have been the first Sword Ceremony marking an NCO change of responsibility on Belvoir during the Army's Year of the NCO.
The symbolism and history of the ceremony illustrate the importance upon which a commander places on the position of the senior NCO in the unit. Whether it is the command sergeant major, first sergeant, or the detachment sergeant, the senior NCO sets the example the Soldiers will follow.
Since the Army's creation by order of the Continental Congress, the noncommissioned officer has been integral to every success our Army has achieved. Under the expert hand of the Army's first inspector general, the duties of the NCO were standardized and the unique history and traditions of the American NCO were born.
Friedrich von Steuben and his Blue Book, or Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, as it was officially titled, served as the doctrine for the duties of NCOs for most of the Army's first three decades.
By the Civil War, NCOs assumed the duties of carrying the flags and regimental colors. In 1840, the Army introduced the distinctive model 1840 NCO sword as an effort to give the NCO added prestige. The sword itself was carried into battle by NCOs through the early 1900s. Though no longer issued equipment, the sword remains a visual reminder of the power, strength and fidelity of the position it represents.
When used as part of a change of responsibility ceremony, the sword reminds the Soldiers of the unit that the senior NCO is responsible for good order and discipline among the troops. It also reminds the senior NCO of the responsibility to care for the troops.
Last week's ceremony highlighted the service of Sgts. 1st Class Chad Jones and Michael Moore. Under Jones, Soldiers of Belvoir's 212th Military Police Detachment served honorably in a wide variety of settings. Many of their duties are fulfilled unobserved by most of our community. Under Moore, the Soldiers will continue to serve Belvoir with distinction.
In this Year of the NCO, Soldiers at Belvoir are lucky to have witnessed such loyal, talented and dedicated leadership in action.