Commentary: Retreat, Reveille and Taps deserve our respect

By Capt. Lisa R. Whaling
508th Aircraft Sustainment Squadron
I'ââve been stationed here over three years and have seen a large number people not paying the appropriate respect toward Retreat. Let me take this opportunity to give you some background about Retreat and the proper way to pay respect for our flag and nation.The tradition of sounding Retreat originated as a bugle call used by the French Army; Retreat was sounded at sunset to notify sentries of their responsibility to challenge all intruders prior to sunrise. In addition, Retreat was used to tell the troops to retire safely to their quarters for the evening. Also, fighting usually concluded at sunset on the battlefield, therefore, Retreat signaled the end of the day.Even as a child growing up in a military family I can remember Retreat playing every evening at 1630 hours to signify the workday had ended and the flag was being lowered. My father taught my siblings and me the importance of stopping what we were doing and putting your hand over your heart while the national anthem played. I can remember a time, when during Retreat, every car on base would come to a stop; every person in the parking lot would stop, stand at attention and salute or place their hand over their heart to show respect for the national anthem and the country they were so fortunate to call home.From my perspective this tradition seems to have slipped away. We are busier than we have ever been. As a result we fail to stop and pay the appropriate respect. Regardless of whether this is a lack of adherence to customs and courtesies or a just- don't-care attitude, intentional or not, we need to take the time to pay the proper respect. At 1700 hours Retreat sounds to signify the end of the duty day and the lowering of the flag. The appropriate thing to do is pull over, turn on the hazards, and sit quietly at attention until the last musical note plays. If you are outside, military members salute at the first note of the music, while civilians place their hand over their heart until the last musical note is played or the flag is completely lowered (if you can see it). Veterans have the option of saluting or placing their hand over their heart.I've been passed by people while stopped in my car paying respect during Retreat, and honked at for not going when the light was green. People are oblivious that it is even playing because their music is too loud. We all like to listen to music in the car, but we also need to watch the clock and at 1700 have an ear out for Retreat. When we hear it, we need to stop what we are doing and where we are going in order to pay the appropriate respect to our nation and those who defend our nation and our freedom.We should all pay respect not only at 1700 hours but also at 0730 hours when Reveille plays to signify the beginning of the duty day. Also, if you are on base around 2100 hours you should know that Taps plays to signify lights out or to begin quiet hours and also to pay respect to those who have paid the ultimate price for all our freedoms. On all three occasions when you hear the music being played over the loudspeakers you should stop your car and sit quietly. If you're outdoors you should stop what you are doing and place your hand over your heart and if in uniform salute until the last note of the music has been played. If you are outside at any of the before mentioned times don't duck into the nearest building or car when the music begins. Take a few minutes out of your day to pay the appropriate respect to our flag and nation we are all so fortunate to call home.It is my hope that through a little education and awareness with co-workers and family members that we can bring focus back to the time-honored traditions of Reveille, Retreat and Taps and continue the traditions with honor for years to come as those who have come before us have done.For more information refer to AFI34-2101, dated Oct. 4, 2006.