FORT BENNING, Ga., (Jan. 13 2016) -- Bugle calls have been an important tradition to the U.S. Army since its inception, dating back to pre-Revolutionary War times. Installations around the world use the bugle calls to pay tribute to the American flag, and as a reminder of the sacrifices Soldiers make every day.
In the weeks leading up to Dec. 1, the Fort Benning community was notified that traditional Army bugle calls would begin to be played throughout the installation on a regular basis in the New Year.
"The request for bugle calls to be played across Fort Benning began during the 2015 Army Family Action Plan Conference," said Jane Bresko, AFAP program manager. "The delegates of that workgroup discussed at length how other installations conduct bugle calls postwide, and how ironic it was that here, where many Soldiers are inducted into the Army, they could only hear it if they were in front of garrison headquarters.
"They felt that by not hearing the bugle calls, Soldiers are not able to observe flag courtesies which instill pride, professionalism and discipline," she said.
According to the ArmyLive website, when George Washington first assumed command of the Continental Army in 1775, drums and bugles were already a fixture of military life and operations. And in a time before radios or texting, there was no other way for a commander to communicate his orders over the din of battle.
As the U.S. Army developed, it standardized the use of these bugle calls for a disciplined lifestyle. The calls united Soldiers and their Families, especially in small camps with garrisons of 100 Soldiers or less where households were often set by the calls.
Today, bugle calls help maintain the pride and foster a greater sense of community on U.S. Army installations around the world. They offer Soldiers and Family members the chance to unite several times a day, and honor the colors they are fighting to protect.
Once the decision to broadcast bugle calls across Fort Benning was made, choosing which calls needed to be played and where they needed to be broadcast was the next step. The Fort Benning command team decided to use the Giant Voice emergency system, and went through a trial period where they asked for feedback from Family members in housing communities around the installation.
"The volume on the Giant Voice is set at one level, and for security reasons it cannot be altered," said Terry Wydra, Fort Benning emergency manager. "And all the feedback we got said it was too loud for 6 a.m. when young children are still sleeping.
"Well, we don't want to disrupt Family life. So, all the bugle calls will be made on Main Post and in training areas - McGinnis-Wickam Hall, Sand and Kelley hills, Harmony Church, etc. - but only "Retreat" and "To the Colors" will be broadcast to the housing areas."
Fort Benning will sound the following bugle calls at the following times (included are the historical purposes for each call). The ones being played in the housing areas are underlined:
• 5:55 a.m., "First Call": Sounded as a warning for Soldiers to begin assembling for a formation.
• 6 a.m., "Reveille": Signals the Soldiers to stand-to for morning roll call and accompanies the raising of the national colors.
• 8 a.m., "Mess Call": Signals breakfast, lunch or dinner.
• 5 p.m., "Retreat": Signals the end of the official duty day.
"To the Colors": This call is used to render honors to the nation when no band is available or in ceremonies requiring honors to the nation more than once. It requires the same courtesies as the national anthem. It is used to accompany lowering or casing the national colors.
• 8:45 p.m., "Tattoo": Signals that all lights in squad rooms be extinguished and that all loud talking and other disturbances be discontinued within 15 minutes.
• 9 p.m., "Taps": Signals that unauthorized lights are to be extinguished. This is the last call of the day.
• 5 p.m., "Retreat" and "To The Colors."
When it comes to the bugle calls, only two require action from Soldiers, Family members and civilians: "Reveille," "Retreat" and "To the Colors."
For Soldiers in uniform:
"Reveille": At the first note of music, face flag and render hand salute (if flag is not in view, face direction of music). End salute on last note of music.
"Retreat": At the first note of music, face flag and stand at attention (if flag is not in view, face direction of music). Remain at attention until last note of "To The Colors" has been played.
"To the Colors": At the first note of music, face flag and render hand salute (if flag is not in view, face direction of music). End salute on last note of music.
For Soldiers not in uniform, Family members and civilians:
"Reveille," "Retreat" and "To the Colors": At the first note of music, face flag, remove headgear (if wearing it) and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Hold this position until the last note of music has been played (if flag is not in view, face direction of music).
For those driving at the time of the calls, only cars in parking lots or on streets with speed limits of 25 miles per hour are required to stop.