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Reveille & Retreat: Respecting the flag


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The American flag is flown outside of 21st Space Wing headquarters, July 2, 2018. The colors of the flag have important meanings. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Every morning before going to work I walk Hootch, my 3-year-old pit bull, at the dog walk park in my apartment complex at 7 a.m. It’s at that time that I can hear reveille being played over the giant voice system at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

My neighbor Ronnie Hillman, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class, stands at attention every morning while listening to reveille being played.

Hillman did two tours each in Iraq and Afghanistan and says that listening to reveille reminds him of the freedom and liberties he has here at home.

Reveille is played at Peterson AFB at 7 a.m., Monday through Friday and is immediately followed by the playing of “To the Colors.”

Retreat signals the end of the duty day and is played at Peterson AFB at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is immediately followed by the playing of the “The Star Spangled Banner.”

When reveille or retreat begins, anyone outside should stop what they are doing and face the sound of the music or a visible U.S. flag, with service members standing at parade rest.

On the first note of “To the Colors” or the National Anthem, civilians and military members in civilian clothes should place their right hand over their heart, while military members in uniform should come to attention and render a salute until the last note of the anthem has played.

Individuals who are in their cars when reveille or retreat begins playing should pull over to the side of the road and sit quietly until all music has finished playing.

For more information about the proper protocol for these ceremonies, see Air Force Instruction 34-1201, Protocol.

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