FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Reveille and Retreat are traditions that run deep in the veins of Soldiers throughout the world, the beginning and end of each duty day at Fort Rucker is signified with these long-held traditions 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.”

For many years the ceremonies were not observed at Fort Rucker. In the summer of 2007, Aviation Branch Command Sgt. Maj. Tod L. Glidewell came to Fort Rucker. He said 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, and he gave the all clear to reinstate the traditions.

Jan. 18, Reveille and Retreat sounded once again at Fort Rucker.

“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 retirees whom didn’t understand why a tradition that meant so much to so many was discontinued, said Glidewell.

“Traditions reinforce us as an Army and as a unit; it brings people together at one moment every day,” said Walters.

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 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.

What to do when you hear “Reveille” and “Retreat”

Soldiers not in formation:

- On the first note of “Reveille,” Soldiers should come to attention and salute the flag. If the flag is not visible, Soldiers should face in the direction of the music and salute.

- In the evenings, “Retreat” is played before “To the Colors.” On the first note of “Retreat,” Soldiers should come to attention and face the flag. If the flag is not visible, Soldiers should face in the direction of the music.

- On the first note of “To the Colors,” salute. Exceptions are made if duty requires Soldiers to face elsewhere or saluting hampers the assignment.

Soldiers in formation:

- The senior Soldier will call the group to attention and then parade rest at the first note of “Retreat.”

- That same Soldier will call the group to attention and “Present, Arms” at the first note of “To the Colors.” At the conclusion, “Order, Arms” is called.

Civilians/Soldiers in civilian clothing:

- When in civilian clothing, Soldiers should place their right hands over their hearts instead of saluting.

- Civilians should remove hats and place their right hands over their hearts.

- Military veterans have two options: salute like other civilians or render a military-style salute.

While in vehicles:

- Vehicles in motion should stop.

- People in cars or on motorcycles should dismount and render proper honors.

- If Soldiers are with a group in a military vehicle or bus, only the individual in charge will dismount the vehicle and salute.

Source: Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Beauchamp, NCO Academy.