Show respect at reveille, retreat

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Steven Dietz
  • 71st Security Forces Squadron
You probably have heard the music coming over the base giant voice system. In the morning, you hear a bugle rendition of "To the Colors," at 7 and, as the duty day closes, "The Star-Spangled Banner" at 5.

Observation during these musical periods, known respectively as reveille and retreat, should resemble a picture perfect scene, not one person within hearing distance moving, everyone locked into place in respect for our flag. Unfortunately this is not always the case. You may see on occasion, people, both military and civilian running for the "safety" of a building, or cars still driving down the street. Those driving may try to say, "I did not hear the music with the windows rolled up." But for anyone who has spent any amount of time on a military installation they should be aware these ceremonies happen at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Now it is feasible that some people on base are unaware of the significance of reveille and retreat, but it does not negate the responsibility that everyone has to honor this military tradition.

The adherence to military tradition should come as no surprise to anyone with military roots, but our structure has broadened and includes civilian employees, dependents and contractors. The expectations behind reveille and retreat are worth revisiting for some people and for providing an orientation for others who have recently been introduced to the military lifestyle.

The bugle sounds to start the new day and to signal to all who hear it that the flag is being raised. The term reveille, meaning to awaken from sleep comes from the French. Retreat, in this context, means the securing of the American flag. It signals the end of the duty day and provides an opportunity for paying respect. In addition to honoring the flag, the retreat ceremony is used to recognize fallen comrades of past and current conflicts. At Vance, the flag remains aloft 24 hours a day seven days a week as a reminder that Vance personnel are on duty at all hours. Again, this doesn't negate the responsibility to honor the flag at reveille and retreat.

At the first sound, people on base who are outdoors need to stop and face the direction that the music is coming from and stand at attention during the playing of reveille or retreat. On the first note of "To the Colors" and the national anthem, uniformed military members should salute until the music ends. Military members wearing the physical training uniform are not required to salute, but they are encouraged to do so if they desire. People who are not in uniform only need to stand at attention. Those people who are in their cars are required to stop their vehicles and sit quietly in observance until they hear the final note play.

And how far does the hearing distance extend? It extends to all Vance AFB, including the housing area. There are no requirements for people within hearing distance indoors to do anything, but imagine the effect of someone going the extra mile to observe these events and what that might mean to others.

Our flag, with every confident flip in the wind, boasts that the United States is indeed a superpower, never to be taken lightly. The flag represents all of us, whether civilian or military, and is deserving of respect. Do your part to honor what it stands for, and if you know of others new to military lifestyle, make them aware of the expectations too.