Fargo-Moorhead EMS Ceremonial Unit
The Guard's Motto
"Hero’s are not dead until they are forgotten. The Honor Guard never forgets!"
The Guard's Creed
My consecration to this sacred duty is total and whole-hearted. In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I waver. With dignity, dedication and determination my standard will remain perfection. I will perform in humble reverence to the best of my capacity. It is those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice that commands the respect I protect, and it is their bravery that made us so proud.
The history of the Unit is a unique journey into the past. The Unit was officially formed n June 2002, but the dream was conceived long before that. There was a growing response in the area of having a formal unit to help represent our EMS community at local functions. The Unit is currently comprised of Paramedics but we invite all employees to join. To be a member of the Unit it takes much dedication, patience, and pride. A person interested in becoming a member must learn Military Drill and Ceremonies and perform to satisfaction of the group before they may perform with the group and obtain his/her uniform. The Unit must practice continuously to maintain its precision drill capabilities. We have performed at many occasions in the past to include Remembrance Ceremonies, EMS conferences and conventions, flag dedication ceremonies, and graduations. We operate as an EMS Honor Guard, Color Guard, Funeral Detail, Bearer Party, and Guard of the Vigil. Our presence and participation is determined by the function and the request.
The Unit's main responsibility is to instill the traits of an EMS professional which include tradition, esprit de corps, dedication, sacrifice, integrity and pride. Our uniform was designed and manufactured by Light House Uniforms from Seattle, WA. The uniform was designed to make the uniform stand out and look different than our local Fire and Police Dress uniforms. It is a traditional Naval Officer Dress Uniform with white service cap and accessories.
The Unit operates by established Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) based upon various Military Drill and Ceremonies used throughout the world. Many procedures have been modeled on ceremonies or military customs traced all the way back to Napoleon. Although he is most famous for his greed for power, he is also the one who placed the need for pre-hospital care and transport of his wounded soldiers. His belief of triaging, treating and transporting is still used today. The military uses the caisson for transporting the deceased to the burial site, but it can rightly be attributed to being the first ambulance. Today, we use the modern ambulance for transporting our honored fallen to their final resting place.
We are accompanied many times by the Heather & Thistle Pipes and Drums. They are a local group that has a large repertoire of songs to choose from. Depending on the event, the group may be accompanying the unit.
The Ceremonial Unit is available to all EMS services in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. All requests are considered but may not be honored due to scheduling conflicts and funding. Requests for Funeral services are given the highest priority and consideration. We also can extend our services to Fire Departments and Law Enforcement services in the area as well.
To be eligible to apply with the guard, you must be a current employee of F-M Ambulance Service. Preference is given to those who currently work in EMS.
The guard as does the military has many awards, decorations and accolades. Some awards are given to the unit as whole, some to a group of guard members, and then to individual guard members. We are proud to display these on our uniforms.
Laying of Wreath's
Flowers have traditionally been laid on graves and memorials in memory of the dead. Laurel and rosemary have been associated with Memorial Day. Laurel was used as a symbol of honor, woven into a wreath by the ancient Romans to crown victors and the brave. Rosemary is commonly associated with remembrance, but in recent years, the poppy, formerly associated with Veterans Day (11 November), has become very popular in wreaths used on Memorial Day.
Vigil of the Watch
The tradition of Vigil of the Watch as a mark of respect or mourning has been observed for centuries and is said to have originated with the ancient Greeks. The earliest documented instances of performing the Vigil of the Watch in more recent times are in descriptions of sixteenth-century military funerals. Below is a picture demonstrating what it is and looks like.
Flags at Half Staff
The tradition of lowering flags to half staff as a sign of remembrance is believed to have its origins on the high seas. As a sign of respect or honor for important persons, sailing ships would lower their sails, thus slowing the vessel and allowing for the VIP's own vessel to come alongside and him to board if he so desired. Lowering of sails was also used to honor VIPs who were reviewing a naval procession from the land. In time only the ship's flags were lowered in a symbolic gesture. This practice was also adopted on land. Traditionally, the flag is brought to the full staff position at the top of the flag pole first, then brought to the half staff position. Flags are brought to half staff on Memorial Day, Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Day, and other times of remembrance ordered by Executive Order until 12 noon when they are returned to full staff position.
The Lone Piper and Flowers of the Forest
The origins of the lone piper are obscure, although a lone piper has been a feature of Scottish military ceremonies for several hundred years. The bagpipes are the traditional instrument of the people of the Scottish highlands and have been carried into battle with Scottish soldiers from the days of William Wallace to the British Falklands War of 1982. Traditionally, in Scottish units a lone piper has taken the place of a bugler to signal the day's end to troops and as such has also bid the farewell to the dead at funerals and memorial services. Flowers of the Forest is the tune usually played on these occasions. It is a traditional Scottish lament (a song of mourning and remembrance).
Each spring/summer our guard host an Honor Guard Camp. This camp originally was established to help train our personnel to Military Close Drill and Ceremonies. The first camp was in 2004. The members learned basic drill and ceremonies. The following year they began to learn the arts of close order drill. Close Order Drill is different than basic drill. Most military recruits upon entering a military branch for service learns this style of drill. All five branches of the US Military have Honor Guards that practice Close Order Drill. Each branch has their own style of commands and verbiage, but overall is the same in execution. The Honor Guards elevate basic drill to a form of art. Many commands are silent and are practiced so much that verbal commands are not required, sometimes only the click of the heals is required.
Persons attending the camp are instructed in:
- Basic Drill and Ceremonies
- Flag Etiquette
- Color Guard Drill
- Saber, Rifle, Axe procedures within drill
- Taps, Bands, Pipers their history, importance and role
- How to perform ceremonies such as: Laying in State or Repose (Receiving the body, escort, bearer party), Vigil of the Watch (changing of the guard), Wreath Laying, Funeral Service (Receiving the body, escort and bearer party), Gravesite (flag folding, etc.)
The camp is a two day training course. The first day is reserved for basics with the second day being reserved to putting those basics to practice with practicing a full funeral. The course is designed as an introduction to Drill and Ceremonies. Participants leave with an awareness of Drill and Ceremonies and are encouraged to bring their knowledge back to their service and improve on that basic training. The camp is open to EMS, Fire and Law Enforcement Services.
If you would like to schedule the unit to perform at a function or ceremony, or if you have any questions, please contact our unit commander. To report a Line-of-Duty Death in North Dakota, please click here.
Please include the following information:
- Name: Contact person or goto person.
- Agency: Agency name, city, and state.
- Phone: Return phone number to include area code.
- Services: Services requested including the event it is for, what you would like the unit to do, etc.
- Date: Include any dates and times.
- Location: Include where the ceremony, event, etc will be at and include any addresses that may apply.
- Comments: Include any additional information that may help in any arrangements.
You can contact our Unit Commander, Don Martin, by multiple means. You can contact him by phone, email, mail, or pager.
- Phone (Local) - (701) 364-1734
- Phone (Toll Free) - 1-800-642-0774 Ext. 734
- E-Mail click to send email.
- Mail - 2215 18th St S, Fargo, ND 58103
- Pager - 701-499-4050. The emergency pager is used in the event of a LODD and need for immediate attention only. Enter your return phone number. The commander will contact when he can.
Funding and Charges
Funding for the Ceremonial Unit comes from multiple sources. We rely heavily upon the generosity of the local community and sponsors.
The Unit was able to form due to the donation of uniforms by F-M Ambulance Service. The accessories were purchased from funds raised by the Local EMS Group-UFCW Local 1116 on behalf of the Unit. Our members donate most of their time and practice.
We provide our services free of charge in Cass County, ND and Clay County, MN. If an event is requested outside of these counties, depending on distance, a charge for lodging will apply. Meals and travel will typically be covered by our sponsors.
If you are interested in having the Ceremonial Unit at a function or to obtain more general information about our services, please contact:
click to send email.
Phone- (701) 364-1734
Toll Free - (800) 642-0774 Ext. 734
Our unit supports many national memorial services that partake throughout the year.
Please click on the following links to learn more on how your organization can help or participate.
National EMS Memorial Service