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News > Commentary - Courtesy and conduct when Reveille, Retreat and the National Anthem are played
Courtesy and conduct when Reveille, Retreat and the National Anthem are played

Posted 6/24/2009   Updated 6/24/2009 Email story   Print story


Commentary by 60th Civil Engineer Squadron
60th Civil Engineer Squadron

6/24/2009 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Conduct involving regulations and courtesy to the flag and our ceremonies is a topic for continuing education. During the playing of Reville, Retreat and the National Anthem daily, even as a civilian or in civilian clothes, you should stop and face the flag or the music if walking and stop your vehicle safely if you are still in your vehicle. While in physical training gear, you should stop and face the flag or the music, but saluting is not necessary. All of us who regularly work at Travis should already know these basics. If you are sponsoring guests including contractors, you should inform them of these requirements. As 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. approach each weekday, you should turn down your radio so you can render the proper respect and fulfill the requirements of Air Force regulations and Federal Law. 

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 or the sound and, if in uniform, stand at parade rest. If not in uniform, protocol still dictates that you stop and face the flag or the music out of respect. 

When do I come to attention and salute the flag?

In uniform: When the Retreat music concludes, come to attention and render a salute when you hear the first note of the National Anthem. 

Not in uniform: Do not salute if you are not in uniform. Come to attention and place your right hand over your heart. Remove your hat with the right hand and hold it at the left shoulder while your right hand is over the heart. 

Servicemembers and veterans not in uniform may render a salute during the hoisting, lowering or passing of the flag; this was changed by the 2008 Defense Authorization Act; Congress realized they omitted the National Anthem and have added an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2009 (S. 3002, section 1081) to amend title 36, USC, to allow veterans and servicemembers not in uniform to salute during the National Anthem if they so desire.

How long do I hold my salute?

Remain at attention saluting the flag until the National Anthem has finished playing.

What if I'm wearing my physical training gear?

You do not salute when wearing your PT gear. Follow the same procedures for those who are not in uniform.

What do I do if I'm driving at the time of Retreat?

At the first note of Reveille, Retreat and the National Anthem, you should bring your moving vehicle safely to a complete stop as you would if an emergency vehicle were approaching and put the car in park. Base guidance is that personnel turn off any music playing in the vehicle. Everyone inside the vehicle, including the driver, should remain seated at attention. 

Key regulations and some of their details are:
4 OCTOBER 2006

Indoors. Military members in uniform, while in formations, should wear appropriate headgear and render the military salute at the first note of the National Anthem and maintain that position until the last note. While not wearing headgear during an indoor ceremony, military members, in formation or not, should stand at attention at the first note of the National Anthem and maintain that position until the last note without rendering the military salute. There is one exception to this. Military members in uniform, under arms, should salute. Civilians should stand at attention facing the flag with their right hand over their heart.

2.19. To the Colors. To the Colors is not the National Anthem, it is only a bugle call and is sometimes played instead of the National Anthem, although it is not recommended as a replacement to the National Anthem. During To the Colors, military members and civilians should render the same customs and courtesies as those given to the playing of the National Anthem.

2.20. Taps. Taps began as a signal to extinguish lights or lights out at the end of the day. Many bases across the Air Force play Taps to signify lights out or to begin quiet hours. For these purposes, there is no formal protocol procedures required. However, the playing of Taps continues to be a part of a military funeral/memorial honors ceremony. Upon hearing Taps at a military ceremony, proper protocol dictates those individuals in uniform render a hand salute until the music is complete. Civilians should remove their headgear and place their hand over their heart. When in civilian clothes and outdoors, stand at attention and place your right hand (with a hat if wearing one) over your heart.

2.21. Reveille and Retreat. ... If in a vehicle during Reveille or Retreat, pull the car to the side of the road and stop. All occupants sit quietly at attention until the last note of the music has played.

4 OCTOBER 2006
Incorporating Change 1, 10 March 2008

Civilian and Motorist Honors. In 1812, Reveille was a drum call, but as time passed it came to mark when the flag was raised in the morning and honors paid to it. Since it is no longer only a call for Soldiers to rise in the morning, it is proper for all military and civilian personnel to afford honors to the flag during these ceremonies. Civilians and military members in civilian clothes should place their right hand over their heart, while military members in uniform should render a salute throughout the ceremony. Vehicles in motion should stop.

2 AUGUST 2006
Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel (pages 24-15)

Men's and Women's Physical Fitness Gear.

11. Saluting is not required.

3 JUNE 1996
Incorporating Change 1, 24 September 2007

7.37. Saluting when the National Anthem or To the Colors is played: 

7.37.1. The U.S. flag is symbolic of the United States and the principles for which it stands. The National Anthem is a declaration of reverence and loyalty to the United States with the flag as an emblem. 

7.37.2. On certain occasions, such as during inclement weather or when a band is not present for a retreat ceremony, To the Colors is played instead of the national anthem. To the Colors is a bugle call sounded as a salute to the flag and it symbolizes respect to the nation and the flag the same as the national anthem does. The proper courtesies in paragraphs through must be rendered. When in uniform in formation, but not a part of a ceremony, the unit commander commands present arms when the National Anthem or To the Colors is played. The unit should be faced toward the flag before being given present arms. When in uniform, but not in formation: Outdoors, at any ceremony where the U.S. flag is present, come to attention; face the flag in the ceremony, and salute. At sporting events, if the flag is visible, face the flag and salute. If the flag is not visible, face the band and salute in its direction. If the music is recorded, face the front and salute. At all other outdoor occasions, follow the same general principle, come to attention, salute, and face the flag, if visible, or the music. Indoors, when the National Anthem or To the Colors is played, face the flag (if present) and assume the position of attention. If no flag is present, assume the position of attention facing the music. Do not salute unless under arms. When in civilian clothing outdoors, take the same action as when in uniform, but use the following manner of saluting. Men remove the headdress with the right hand and hold it at the left shoulder with the right hand over the heart. Men without hats and women salute by standing at attention and placing the right hand over the heart. When in civilian clothing indoors, render the civilian salute by standing at attention and placing the right hand over the heart. In vehicles during an Air Force flag ceremony, the driver brings the moving vehicle to a stop at the first note of the national anthem or To the Colors. Personnel in vehicles, including the driver, remain seated at attention. 

*The above information was taken from AFMAN36-2203, AFP34-1202, and AFI34-1201 and from a commentary written by Capt. Caroline Lorimer, 452nd AMW/PA and from the Ask the Lawyer Column by Mathew Tully in the June 15th 2009 edition of the Air Force Times.

8/17/2014 4:42:08 PM ET
The information is grossly out of date and needs revision. Regardless of what an AFI says it cannot contravene any provision of the U.S. Code.
William Campbell, OK
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