03 June 2016
Respect Takes No Time
Col. Robert O’Brien, USAG Fort Detrick Commander
On June 14, the United States Army is celebrating its 241st birthday, and we will honor the day with festivities in front of the post headquarters. One of the ways we will be celebrating the birthday is by bringing a tradition back to Fort Detrick, the firing of the cannon during reveille and retreat.

Serving in the military, whether in or out of uniform, brings you to a community which dates back to the days before our Nation was founded with many traditions, customs and courtesies.

Two of the most visible of these traditions are at the beginning and at the end of the day when we show respect to our flag.

“Reveille” marks the start of the official duty day, with a 25-second bugle call that is marked by the firing of a single cannon salute on the first notes of the song and the raising of the colors. “Retreat” signifies the end of the duty day — normally 5 p.m. on Fort Detrick — and begins with the 29-second bugle call, “Retreat,” followed by a single cannon salute and playing “To the Colors.” “To the Colors” is a 42-second bugle call to render honors to the Nation.

During Reveille and Retreat ceremonies, it is customary to stop activity to show respect for the Nation. At the first notes of “Reveille” or “Retreat,” stop where you are and turn to face the flag, and if the flag is not visible, turn in the general direction of the flag or toward the direction of the music. Service Members in uniform will salute and civilians should place their right hand over their heart at the first notes of “Reveille”.

For “Retreat,” you should stand after the first notes and place your right hand over your heart for the duration of “To the Colors.” If you are in a vehicle, it is appropriate to stop the vehicle. Service Members will exit the vehicle to render honors and civilians may do the same. There are still daily occurrences of people getting in a hurry and driving around vehicles or people rendering honors.

It doesn’t take a lot of time — “Reveille” takes 110 seconds and “Retreat” takes 122 seconds — to honor our Nation’s flag and all that it symbolizes. It also helps reinforce the sense of pride we share in serving our country and the community that binds us all together. This community we share is a special one, there is nothing nobler than serving our Nation and fellow citizens.
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