CIA Honor Guard Presents Colors at Redskins Game
Raindrops poured down as the CIA’s Honor Guard proudly marched onto the home field of the Washington Redskins on Saturday evening, August 22. Minutes before kickoff, Security Protective Service Officers Jason L., Suzanne K., Vernon A., and Virgil B., led by Sergeant Amie P., presented the colors as the Redskins band played the Star Spangled Banner and NFL players and tens of thousands of fans looked on. It was a dream realized for the Honor Guard.
It all began when Amie attended a Redskins game last December. She noticed that the honor guard presenting colors during the pre-game show was from a federal agency. After receiving Agency approval, she contacted Redskins management to inquire about the possibility of the CIA Honor Guard performing before one of the games. The CIA Honor Guard was placed in a pool with other agencies hoping to participate, awaiting final review by the Redskins upper management. In July, Amie received word that the CIA had been chosen to perform at the Redskins vs. Steelers preseason game the next month. The Honor Guard was thrilled.
The group arrived at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, several hours early, hoping to practice before the game. At that point, it had been raining for several hours and the field was covered by a tarp. The Honor Guard waited out the weather in a suite next to the Redskins locker room, but when it was apparent that the rain wasn’t going to stop, they decided to go out to practice anyway. The group worked with the Redskins staff to determine the best place to march out on the field, eventually deciding on the 50-yard line. “Getting an inside look and getting the opportunity to be on the field before and during the game was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was extremely proud to represent the Agency and be offered the chance to experience something that most only see on TV,” said Amie.
Although they had practiced on the field before the gates opened, marching into a packed stadium was much different. The Honor Guard knew their routine well, but performing in front of tens of thousands of fans and two NFL teams on live television can be a bit nerve-wracking. “When we walked onto the field at the start of the game my heart was pounding as I tried to take in all that was going on around us. These are some of the NFL's biggest players, and during our performance their focus was on us, rather than us watching them,” said Amie.
Instead of worrying about the crowd, the Honor Guard focused on their steps and proudly displayed the colors in the center of the field. “Large audiences can be a challenge to overcoming nervousness, but it does force everyone to make sure they are on the top of their game. When you know that everyone is looking at you, you make sure that you do things cleanly and crisply, as perfect as possible,” said Jason who marched onto the field with the American flag.
Many of the officers described the experience as surreal, like Suzanne, who carried the CIA flag onto the field. ”Even with the rain and intense nerves, it was one of the best events I have participated in with Honor Guard. To represent the Agency in that capacity was momentous,” she said. The Honor Guard stuck around after their performance to watch the game, which ended as a 17 - 13 win for the Redskins over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In the end, the rain and nerves barely factored into the experience. After the flags were put away and the rain finally stopped, what the Honor Guard members cared most about was representing their Agency well. As Jason put it, “I can only hope that we left a positive mark on those who saw us perform before the game.”