It only takes a minute Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 July 2014
By Mike Bowers
Managing editor

What is a minute of your time?

How much of an inconvenience are the seconds it takes to render the proper respect to the symbol of our country — the national flag — when it is lowered signaling the end of the duty day?

On Fort Leonard Wood, the sounding of Retreat and To the Colors marks that occasion.

The ceremonial military music times out at about 25 seconds for Retreat and about 35 seconds for To the Colors. Even with the firing of the cannon, total time is less than a minute.

What is the proper respect?

As a service member, when you hear the first note, you should come to the position of attention, face the flag (or the direction the music is coming from, if the flag is not visible) and render the hand salute at the first note of “To the Colors,” according to the Army Study Guide.

On Fort Leonard Wood, Retreat music is played Mondays through Fridays over the Mass Notification Speaker System. There is no excuse for not hearing the music when outside.

The rules are different when driving on the installation. Traffic control points have been set up at key intersections on post to stop traffic during Retreat ceremonies. In and out traffic does not stop at entry gates on Fort Leonard Wood during Retreat.

However, everyone driving on the installation should stop, including motorcycles. Traffic is not stopped on weekends, federal and training holidays and during a severe weather advisory.

In addition to service members, Department of the Army civilians and visitors to the installation should stop their vehicles and exit, if safe to do so, and pay their respect.  

Those in civilian attire should remove hats and place their right hand over the heart.

However, both service members not in uniform and retirees may salute.

Those with physical disabilities and small children are not required to get out of their vehicles. Only the senior person of a group in a military vehicle or bus should get out and render honors.

Although the flag is raised and lowered on weekends, Retreat is not played.

Leaders should not have to take drastic measures to get people to pay respect for what the flag represents — freedom.

Nevertheless, that lack of respect is seen in on-post theaters during the playing of the national anthem.  

Individuals don’t remove their hats, continue conversations, walk down the aisles and fail to take control of their children.  

Staying out until the anthem is over is always an option.

Stopping and paying respect is about and an honor to all the service members who gave their lives representing the flag.  

They don’t have a minute, but gave their lives to make sure that you do.

The lasting memory of that selfless service was the flag draped over their coffin.

No excuse justifies all the bickering, hanging out in buildings to avoid facing the music for less than a minute, or complaining that paying respect to the flag is controlling and being told what to do.

The military is about tradition, forged from the creation of our country hundreds of years ago.  

Service members are bound by those traditions.  

Those who support our service members should honor those traditions.

It’s only a minute.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 March 2015 )