Each morning and evening on military posts, a bugle call, coinciding with the raising and lowering of the U.S. flag, can be heard. The songs — “Reveille” and “Retreat” — signify the start and end of each day.
In the early morning hours, while the flag is being raised “Reveille” is played. The 6:30 a.m. call traditionally is meant to awaken the troops for morning roll call.
At 5 p.m., the flag is lowered and “Retreat” is played followed by the playing of “To the Colors.”
The history of bugle calls are as old as the Army itself. In 1775, when George Washington became the commander of the Continental Army, drums and bugles were already tools used to communicate. According to Army Live “work parties far from camp gathering forage for the horses … knew to return to camp when they heard the call for ‘Recall.’ As the U.S. Army developed, it standardized the use of these bugle calls for a disciplined lifestyle.
In today’s Army, whenever “Reveille” is played, Soldiers who are not in formation and not in a vehicle, must come to attention. At the first note, they will face the flag and give the required salute. If no flag is near, the Soldiers will face the music and salute. Soldiers who are in formation will salute only on the order “present arms.” Civilians will stand at attention and place their right hand over their heart and service members in civilian clothing may salute.
In the evening, when “Retreat” is played, Soldiers who are outside in uniform and not in formation, should face the flag, or face the direction of the music and come to the position of attention. At the end of “Retreat,” “To the Colors” will begin playing. During “To the Colors,” service members in uniform must render a salute at the first note of this song.
When in a formation or a group, the senior service member present will lead the group in the proper positions during both songs. Civilians will stand at attention and place their right hand over their heart. Service members in civilian clothing may salute.
Typically, when people are driving and “Reveille” or “Retreat” begin, they should dismount from their vehicle and render the proper courtesy. At Fort Bragg, the policy on dismounting from vehicles during retreat is amended for certain areas. Those driving on All American Expressway, Reilly Road, Butner Road or any other road where the posted speed limit is over 25 miles per hour, should not pull their vehicles over and dismount. This is to avoid safety hazards.
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