PETERSON AFB, Colo. --
The military is full of tradition, from what we wear to why we salute. Among those traditions are the playing of Reveille, Retreat and Taps.
Currently, the following bugle calls are sounded seven days a week: Reveille at 7 a.m., retreat (followed by the National Anthem) at 5:30 p.m., and Taps at 10 p.m. Starting July 30, "To the Colors" will be added to the morning repertoire immediately following reveille.
The reveille and retreat ceremonies are meant to signal the beginning and the end of the official duty day; Taps signifies lights out, or the beginning of quiet hours. These ceremonies are steeped in history, and are time for all to stop and show respect.
However, it seems many fear the time of reveille and retreat, because they are not sure of the correct protocol. Unless there is lightning striking, I hope not to see you run for cover during these times. The instructions are fairly simple. Take the time to refresh your memory.
What do I do when reveille or retreat is played?
Whether in uniform or not in uniform: At the first sounds of reveille or retreat, stop where you are and turn to face the flag, or in a case where the flag is not visible, turn in the general direction of the flag and, if in uniform, stand at parade rest.
When do I come to attention and salute the flag?
In uniform: When the reveille or retreat music concludes, come to attention and render a salute when you see the flag being raised or you hear the first note of The National Anthem or "To the Colors."
Not in uniform: Do not salute if you are not in uniform. Come to attention and place your right hand over your heart. Men should remove their hats with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder while their right hand is over their heart.
How long do I hold my salute?
Remain at attention saluting the flag until the National Anthem or "To the Colors" has finished playing, or until the flag has been completely raised or lowered.
What if I'm wearing my physical training gear?
You do not salute when wearing your PT gear. Follow the same procedures for those not in uniform.
What do I do if I'm driving at the time of reveille or retreat?
At the first note of The National Anthem or "To the Colors," bring your moving vehicle to a complete stop and put the car in park. Everyone inside the vehicle, including the driver, should remain seated at attention.
What do I do when I hear Taps played?
For the purpose of signifying lights out or to begin quiet hours, there are no formal protocol procedures required.
For Taps played at a military funeral/memorial honors ceremony, upon hearing the first note:
In uniform: Render a hand salute until the music is complete.
Not in uniform: Do not salute. Come to attention and place your right hand over your heart. Men should remove their hats with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder while their right hand is over their heart.
Rendering the proper courtesies to the flag is the correct standard. Our national symbol deserves that respect.
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