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Courtesies to the Flag

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

Everyone who works, visits and lives on Joint Base Andrews has the opportunity to pay respects to the American flag twice a day as it is raised and lowered. Regulations and courtesy to the flag are topics for continuing education.

"All who are on Joint Base Andrews are expected to properly honor our nation and our flag during reveille, retreat, and ‘Taps’,” said Col E. John Teichert, 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews commander. “It is our individual and collective responsibility to do so."


The terms "Reveille" and "Retreat" can refer both to the ceremony used to show respect to the flag and to the music that initiates the event. Reveille signifies the start of the duty day and is initiated with a bugle call, which is followed by the playing of "To the Colors."

Retreat signifies the end of the duty day and is a signal to pay respects. It is initiated with the playing of "Retreat" followed by the National Anthem.

During reveille and retreat, all personnel here participating in outdoor activities to include, but not limited to, walking, individual or unit physical training, should stop their activity to show respect for the flag, according to AFI 34-1201. Reveille is played at 7:00 a.m. and retreat is conducted at 5:00 p.m. each day on JBA.
If sponsoring guests, including contractors, one should inform them of these requirements and protocols to pay proper respect to the U.S. flag.

"It is a privilege and an honor to serve our great nation, and we should consider reveille, retreat, and taps as opportunities to stop and pay tribute to our nation,” said Teichert. “Use these pauses in our busy daily lives to consider how fortunate we are to be here."


Below are some common questions regarding the proper protocol for all personnel on Joint Base Andrews to follow during reveille and retreat.

What do I do when reveille or retreat is played?

At the first notes of "Reveille" or "Retreat," stop where you are and turn to face the flag. If the flag is not visible, turn toward the general direction of the flag or the music.

If in uniform, come to parade rest at the first notes of "Reveille" or "Retreat," and then come to attention and salute at the first notes of "To the Colors" or the National Anthem.

All civilians or military members not in uniform should come to attention and place your right hand over your heart at the first notes of "To the Colors" or the National Anthem. If you are wearing a hat in civilian attire, remove it with your right hand and hold it at the left shoulder while your right hand is over the heart.

Service members and veterans, when not in uniform, may render a salute during reveille or retreat.

What if I'm wearing my physical training uniform?

Proper military customs and courtesies apply while wearing the physical training uniform during reveille and retreat.

Required flag protocol for each branch when in physical training uniform:

USAF/USA:  In accordance with service protocol, will face the flag or music, stand attention and salute at first note of the National Anthem and hold the salute until the national anthem is finished.

USMC/USN:  In accordance with service protocol, will face the flag or music, stand attention and remain at attention until the National Anthem is finished.

What do I do if I'm driving at the time of reveille or retreat?

Drivers must bring 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.

Taps:
According to AFI 34-1201, “Taps” began as a signal to extinguish lights at the end of the day. Many Air Force installations play Taps to signify lights out or to begin quiet hours.

Taps is played nightly Monday through Friday, respectively at 9 p.m. and on certain occasions such as the anniversary of 9/11. If civilian or military members are outdoors during the playing of Taps, the proper protocol is to stop your vehicle or your person, remove any headgear and face the direction of the music.

It is also customary for those not in uniform to stand, remove headgear and place their right hand over their heart upon hearing “Taps”. At a military ceremony such as a funeral or memorial, proper protocol dictates those in uniform must stand at attention and salute.