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REVEILLE, RETREAT, TAPS: military tradition honored

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
4:59 p.m., while making the daily commute home from work, a familiar song plays on the radio so naturally you turn up the volume and continue driving. Eager to get home, you hit the gas, not noticing the cars around you have come to a stop and pedestrian servicemembers are saluting.

Now imagine a war veteran, who fought in World War II and the Korean War, standing at attention. A hunch in his back prevents him from perfect posture, but despite the pain he remains still. Remembering the brothers in arms he lost in battle, giving their lives in defense of liberty and justice, as the national anthem plays a tear begins to stream down his cheek, unashamed. It isn't the first time he has heard the national anthem play, he's listened to it and honored it for the past 50 years. It's just that he remembers why we pay tribute to tradition.

Here at Andersen, Veteran's Day marks the return of a time-honored tradition strongly rooted in military history. Starting Nov. 11, the base will reinstate the playing of Reveille, Retreat and Taps, offering Team Andersen a moment out of the day to reflect on tradition, honor and a legacy of freedom.

Reveille will be played daily at 6 a.m. and Retreat at 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, but excluding holidays. Taps will play at 10 p.m., everyday. All on base during these times are expected to render proper courtesies; however, actions are not required anywhere on the flightline or if the act of stopping a work process will result in a safety hazard.

The morning bugle call, known as Reveille, was originally conducted as "Troop" in 1812 and was designed to muster the unit or for roll call and additionally to signal sentries to leave off night challenging. Though it was not originally intended to, today, Reveille is conducted to honor the U.S. flag.

On Andersen, after the Reveille call over the giant voice system, "To the Colors" will play. At the first sound, those on base and outdoors should stop, face the flag or direction of the sound and stand at attention. On the first note of "To the Colors," uniformed servicemembers or those in physical training gear should salute until the last note of the music. Those not in uniform should stand at attention. All cars on base must come to a complete stop and occupants should turn the radio all the way down until the music ends.

At the end of the duty day, Retreat will sound. Retreat is traditionally a time to secure the flag and pay respect to what it stands for. At the first sound, uniformed servicemembers or those in PT gear outdoors should stop, face the direction of the sound and stand at parade rest. The national anthem will follow and on the first note, uniformed servicemembers and thos e in PT gear should come to attention and salute until the last note of the music. Those in civilian clothing should stand at attention with their hand over their heart. If wearing a hat, remove it and hold it over your heart. All cars on base must come to a complete stop and occupants should turn the radio down until the music ends.

Taps is a signal to turn lights out at the end of the day and no formal protocol procedures are required.

Sure the sound of the bugle or the playing of the national anthem may stop you momentarily from what you were doing, but the tradition and honor that accompanies the music deserve a moment of your time. When you hear the music while on your way to work, try to remember the war veteran and his fallen comrades.

"During this time I ask you all to take the opportunity to pause and reflect on the freedoms we have today; a freedom guaranteed by the continued efforts at home and abroad by our veterans, past and present," said Brig. Gen. John Doucette, 36th Wing commander.

Honoring these military traditions serves to not only recognize military customs and courtesies, but the heritage the U.S. flag represents.

Chief Master Sgt. Allen Mullinex, 36th Wing command chief, reflects on the importance of Andersen's returned daily observances.

"Reveille and Retreat are each less than two minutes. However, during that time I gain a renewed sense of pride about our country and those who serve to defend it," he said. "My Son is currently serving in Afghanistan and when I pay honor to our flag I know I am also honoring his service, I am very proud of him."

For more information on Reveille, Retreat and Taps, see Air Force Instruction 34-1201, Protocol.