Respect: Have it, pay it, never shy away from it

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Troy Kiick
  • Eglin Honor Guard
Why are people huddled in buildings all across base just inside their doorways, waiting for the "all-clear?" Has there just been an attack? Are we in an exercise, you ask?

No. The "all-clear" everyone is waiting for is the completion of "Retreat," followed by our country's national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."

After all, no one wants to get caught on the way to their car before going's too hot or cold, it's raining, or it's just inconvenient--they have places to be.

I remember how patriotic everyone was the days following September 11th. I watched people not just stop their cars, but actually get out and salute during our national anthem. What has happened since then?

We are still at war, we are still losing Americans in the war on terror, yet the patriotism that flowed so vibrantly through everyone's veins nearly a decade ago has sadly dissipated. Have we forgotten the cost of our freedom?

As of May 1, it stands at 581,428 and counting -- that's how many United States Servicemen and women have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in combat since the Revolutionary War started in 1775.

Another popular comment is the old "I shouldn't have to stop my PT or work for it" line. I wonder what a Vietnam-era chopper gunner--whose life expectancy was about 20 seconds in a "hot" landing zone--would say about people complaining because they had to stop and salute for about a minute. Clearly there are too many sacrifices that we have taken for granted.

Some people argue that "Airmen these days have no respect." But does the Airman just out of basic training and tech school get to their first base and suddenly brain-dump all the customs and courtesies that have been a part of their life since joining the Air Force? No. They follow the example set for them by their peers and their leadership, and these days the example seems to be a poor one.

Now the question is how do we fix this growing problem? How can we get others to stop and pay proper respect when they are supposed to? The answer is we must ALL set the example and be knowledgeable of the proper customs and courtesies. So let's talk about what exactly Reveille and Retreat are and what they mean for the military and civilian populace.

Reveille signals the beginning of the duty day, and is played to honor the U.S. Flag as it is being raised. On Eglin, Reveille is followed by "To the Colors." On the first note of Reveille, which usually plays at 7:30 a.m., all members in uniform--including PT gear--must stop and assume the position of parade rest.

Once Reveille is over, members in uniform should come to attention and render a salute and hold until the last note of "To the Colors" is played. If in civilian clothes, service members must come to parade rest for Reveille then come to attention for "To the Colors"--civilians should stop moving and stand silently until both songs have finished playing.

Retreat signals the end of the day's activities and is usually followed by the national anthem to honor the U. S. Flag as it is being lowered. Retreat plays on Eglin at 5 p.m. On the first note of Retreat, members in uniform should assume the position of parade rest. On the first note of the national anthem members should come to attention and salute until the last note has played. Service members not in uniform should come to attention for the national anthem and place their right hand over the heart. If headgear is being worn it should be removed during this time. For civilians, on the first note of Retreat they should stop moving and prepare for the national anthem. On the first note of the national anthem, they should place their right hand over the heart, and remove headgear if wearing any.

Taps is usually played later in the evening and is the signal for "lights out," or quite hours. Taps plays on Eglin at 10 p.m. The origins of Taps can be traced back to the Civil War, and is also played as the last part of military funerals. If outdoors and in uniform, service members must come to the position of attention and salute until the last note has played. If not in uniform, service members and civilians must follow the same protocol as for the national anthem.

If in a vehicle, the driver should stop the vehicle, turn off the radio, and sit in silence until the last note of music has played for all of these ceremonies.

In closing, we must all never forget the sacrifices that so many of our countrymen and women have made. It doesn't matter if you are active duty or civilian, it is our duty as Americans to pay our respects to those that have served for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Furthermore, it is our responsibility to research, understand, and champion our military customs and courtesies. So the next time a bugle plays, instead of bolting for the car or strolling into your building "pretending" not to hear it, try this: Stand tall, proud, and thankful... someone might see you.