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Honoring the flag

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Valerie Hosea
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
Every day, the people of Sheppard have a chance to honor the flag and those who have given their lives to defend it. 

Reveille, Retreat and Taps are played each duty day on military installations to signify different phases of the day. It is imperative for the Department of Defense servicemembers and employees to render the proper courtesies at the appropriate times due to the fact that each one calls for different actions. 

The Air Force Instruction 34-1201 explains what procedures should take place for each song. 

Reveille is a bugle call played to indicate the start of a duty day. It is usually played at sunrise, but varies from base to base. At Sheppard, Reveille is played at 6:30 a.m.  Retreat is just the opposite. It symbolizes the end of the duty day. On Sheppard retreat is sounded at 4:30 p.m.

 Representing the beginning and end of a duty day is not the only impact of these two songs. 

"Like many, Reveille and Retreat mean the beginning and the end of the duty day to me," said Tech. Sgt. Brett Wilburn, a Sheppard honor guardsman and instructor at the 365th Training Squadron. "However, I can say with conviction, whenever I hear either being played over the loud voice, it gives me a feeling of pride." 

Although these two songs represent different occasions, the actions to honor the flag are the same. 

When a servicemember is in uniform outside during Reveille and Retreat, they should face the flag while standing at attention and salute, holding it from the first note of the music to the last. If the flag is not visible, then face the music. 

Motorists on base should pull the car to the side of the road and stop during the song. All passengers should sit quietly until the last note of the music has played. 

When in civilian attire, stand at attention and place the right hand over the heart. If a hat is worn, it should be held in the right hand over the heart. 

Taps is played in the evening, at Sheppard that's 10 p.m. The song began as a signal to extinguish lights or lights out at the end of the day. Now, many bases across the Air Force play it to begin quiet hours. However, the meaning of Taps is deeper for some. 

"Taps really reminds me of how much other people have sacrificed before me so that we can live in freedom, as an Air Force and as a country," said Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Sallinger, 82nd Training Wing command chief. 

Unless played at a military ceremony, there are no formal procedures required by the AFI. 

However, this does not mean that showing respect is not allowed. Many people choose to stand at parade rest or attention when Taps is played to honor the lives lost for the country. 

"Any opportunity we have where we can stop and reflect, we should do it," Chief Sallinger said.