Check your lines: Reveille and Retreat

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Ruben Gonzalez
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Command Chief
The French military and political leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, is credited with saying, "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon."

That colored ribbon, a medal or other award, motivates because of what it represents in the eyes of the military recipient and of his fellow warriors - a mission well done.

The American flag holds that same place of honor. It represents a mission well done in the past and the present and a promise for the future.

We have the opportunity to show respect for the men and women who have given of themselves for that flag -- some giving all they had -- every time we hear the music of Reveille and Retreat.

Reveille sounds at 7 a.m. on duty days at Vance. In fact, it is considered the beginning of the duty day. Whether in uniform, to include the physical training uniform, or in civilian clothing, you should face the music, or the flag if visible, come to attention, render the appropriate honor - salute or hand over heart -- and remain that way until Reveille is completed.

Retreat sounds at 5 p.m. on duty days and is considered the end of the duty day. At Vance, Retreat is played followed by the national anthem. When you hear the beginning of Retreat, there is only one appropriate action - come to a stop in parade rest, facing the flag if visible or the music if not.

When the first note of the national anthem is played, come to attention and salute if in uniform. Hold the salute until the last note of music is played.

Airmen in civilian clothes, and veterans, have the right to salute the flag thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 and 2009. All other civilians should place their right hand over the heart.

Everyone driving a car when the music starts should come to a stop and sit at attention until the music ends.

And that's how you correctly observe Reveille and Retreat on the outside. How you observe them on the inside is equally if not more important.

If you feel the urge to dash for the nearest building when the first note of music is played, you are running away from the chance to say thank you to 1st Lt. James Fleming, Airman 1st Class John Levitow and Capt. Lance Sijan - Vietnam era Air Force Medal of Honor recipients. Odds are they would be standing at parade rest throughout your run for the door.

When you delay leaving the office so you don't get "caught" by the music, you'll miss an opportunity to honor the American soldiers at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War who held their positions for 10 days despite four-to-one odds.

How you act during Reveille and Retreat speaks loudly of just how much respect you have for the American flag and those who sacrificed to ensure it still flys proudly every day.