By Army Flier Staff ReportsApril 20, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- From the bugle call early in the morning to the cannon fire in the evening, people on military installations across the U.S. have become accustomed to these sounds, and Fort Rucker is no exception when it comes to upholding this centuries-old tradition.
"Reveille" and "Retreat" are traditions that honor the flag and nation, according to Sgt. Maj. Dave Ewing, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence G-3 sergeant major.
"'Reveille' marks our flag being hoisted and signifies the beginning of our duty day," said Ewing. "It originated from the French word 'wake up' and was historically used to wake military personnel at dawn for assembly of the troops and roll call."
Ewing added that "Retreat" was first used by the French army and dates back to the Crusades.
"The Army's use of this bugle call dates back to the Revolutionary War," he said. "It was originally used to notify guards to start challenging all by instructing them to halt and identify themselves. It also tells the rank and file to go to their quarters and stay there."
The familiar sound of the bugle and boom of the cannon are mostly ceremonial in today's military, but still signify the beginning and end of the duty day on the installation, he added.
"A gun is fired at the last note of retreat, followed by the playing of 'To the Colors' while the flag is lowered," Ewing said. "The flag is lowered to ensure completion at the last note of the music."
The daily ceremonies take place on Howze Field, where a seven-man group of Soldiers raise the flag during "Reveille" at 6 a.m. Mondays-Fridays and on holidays. "Retreat" is sounded at 5 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, and 4 p.m. on Fridays and holidays.
The seven-Soldier detail is switched out twice a month and cycled through four different units on Fort Rucker, including members of the 1st Aviation Brigade, Warrant Officer Career College, NCO Academy and 110th Aviation Brigade.
According to Army Regulation 600-25, during "Reveille," Soldiers in uniform and not in formation must come to attention and salute in the direction of the flag upon the first note. If the flag cannot be seen, Soldiers should face the direction of the music. Soldiers in formation should follow the command of their senior Soldier who should call the group to attention.
During "Retreat," Soldiers in uniform who are not in formation should come to attention upon the sound of the first note, remain at attention until the cannon blast is heard, then salute. If no cannon is heard, the Soldiers should salute upon the first note of "To The Colors."
All vehicles on the installation should come to a stop, including civilians, but Soldiers who are in a vehicle during "Reveille" or "Retreat" are required to stop and dismount their vehicle to render honors, added Ewing.