FORT LEONARD WOOD, Missouri- On October 11th while conducting an interview, President Trump failed to stand and observe Retreat at the Harrisburg Air National Guard base during his Fox News interview with Sean Hannity. He then continued to joke and talk through the ceremony, “What a nice sound that is. Are they playing that for you or for me? They’re playing that in honor of his ratings. Did you see how good his ratings are? He’s beating everybody.” Retreat signifies the lowering of the flag by a bugle call.
By custom, when on a military reservation, uniformed military personnel should stand at attention and face the American flag, or the direction of the music if a flag is not visible. Civilians should stand at attention and place their right hand over their heart. All vehicles on military installations should come to a complete stop and wait until the last note of the music stops according to official guidance.
The U.S. Army explains how and why it is observed on Fort Leonard Wood:
Everyone who lives, works and plays on Fort Leonard Wood has the opportunity to pay respects to the American flag twice a day as it is raised and lowered. As a reminder, traffic control checkpoints are established at key intersections during retreat in order to halt traffic on duty days.
“The control points are an effort to re-instill pride, tradition and discipline across the post in an area that for quite some time has gone unrecognized. Some of our newer Soldiers and their Families haven’t been exposed to this,” said Sgt. Maj. Richard “Mitch” Prater, former Maneuver Support Center of Excellence G3/5/7.
According to officials, traffic control across Fort Leonard Wood has enabled moving vehicle traffic to safely pull over; allowing drivers and passengers to dismount and render the proper honors to the United States colors.
“We are honoring the nation the flag represents,” said former Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hayes, Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood. “We are also honoring those who have fought under the flag, and in some cases are buried under it, to protect our constitution and preserve the rights and liberty we all enjoy.”
Reveille is played at 6:30 a.m. and Retreat is conducted at 5 p.m. each day on Fort Leonard Wood. While every service member knows that the military has specific protocols to follow during reveille and retreat, the civilian population may be unaware of such rules.
“Those in uniform are required to stop what they are doing, face the flag — or music if they cannot see the flag — and render the hand salute during these ceremonies,” Hayes said. “Those not in uniform, and civilians, should stand at attention and place their right hand over their heart. Anyone in a moving vehicle should pull off the road — (and) if they can safely do so, dismount their vehicle and perform the same actions listed above.”
Due to a 2007 act of Congress, veterans and active-duty military not in uniform can also render the military-style hand salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag.
Retreat and reveille have long played a part in the Army’s daily life.
Reveille was not originally intended as honors to the flag. In 1812, it was a drum call to signify that Soldiers should rise for day duty, and sentries should leave off night challenging (halting people and demanding identification). As time passed, reveille came to signify when the flag was raised in the morning and honors paid to it, according to Army Field Manual 3-21.5.
Retreat has always been at sunset. The music for retreat dates back to the Crusades and was first used by the French Army. The American Army has used this bugle call since the Revolutionary War. Retreat’s original purpose was to notify sentries to start challenging until sunrise, and to tell Soldiers to go to retire to their quarters for the day, according to the manual.
Today, reveille and retreat ceremonies serve a twofold purpose. They signal the beginning and ending of the official duty day and serve as ceremonies for paying respect to the flag and those who serve it, according the Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Lyle, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard.
“Everyone needs to pay their respect during these ceremonies,” Hayes said, “because although everyone does not serve under the flag, everyone enjoys the rights and liberty it stands for.
“It should remind us that the present and future of our Army is linked to our past,” Hayes continued. “By keeping alive the customs and traditions of our past, we are also keeping alive the legacy of those who have fought, sacrificed, bled and died to build our military into the most formidable Army in the world. These customs and traditions give us a sense of who we are as a fighting force.”