Long-standing tradition returns to Fort Rucker
March 24, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Reveille and Retreat is a tradition that runs deep in the veins of Soldiers throughout the world, the beginning and end of each duty day at Fort Rucker is signified with this long held tradition of the U.S. Army.
"The Army is about traditions," said Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Dwaine E. Walters. "By observing Retreat you are reminded of what the Army is and what it means."
Reveille and Retreat signals the start and end of the official duty day and serves as a ceremony for paying respect to the flag. It was originally a crusades-era French bugle call and was played at sunset. It signified the requirement of sentries to challenge personnel until sunrise and for Soldiers to return to their quarters.
For many years Retreat was not observed at Fort Rucker. In the summer of 2007, Aviation Branch Command Sgt. Maj. Tod L. Glidewell came to Fort Rucker. Glidewell says Retreat was not being observed in the proper manner during this time.
"There are many of our brothers and sisters who have fought long and hard for this nation who would love the opportunity to stand here and observe Retreat at the end of each day," said Glidewell. "But they have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to be respectful you should stop, face the colors and observe the ceremony."
When Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general, took command, one of the many questions facing him was the observance of Reveille and Retreat. After explanation, Crutchfield gave the all clear to reinstate the tradition.
Jan. 18, Reveille and Retreat sounded once again at Fort Rucker after several months of training and securing a cannon. The tradition is upheld by volunteers from the Warrant Officer College and Noncommissioned Officers Academy.
"It is a piece of our history and, as noncommissioned officers, their primary job is to protect the history and heraldry the Army has and to pass it on to future generations," Glidewell said.
The military community was fully in support of reinstating Reveille and Retreat, especially noncommissioned officers and retiree's whom didn't understand why a tradition that meant so much to so many was discontinued, said Glidewell.
"Traditions are upheld, not necessarily because they have a purpose, but because it builds morale in the unit," said Walters. "Traditions reinforce us as an Army and as a unit; it brings people together at one moment every day."
Reveille is observed at 5:30 a.m. and Retreat is observed at 5 p.m. daily at Fort Rucker. When Retreat is sounded, a cannon is shot and "To the Colors" plays. Those within earshot of the music should immediately stop, get out of their car and salute. If non-military are in earshot they should stop, face the flag and stand at attention.
"Retreat not only has historical value, but the meaning of it, behind it and the reason we observe it are for those making sacrifices for our Army right now and throughout the years. It instills values and traditions that the Army holds," said Glidewell.
"Young Soldiers need to see traditions such as these so they can build in the spirit of them as they become the senior leaders of the Army," Walters added.