Retreat; everyone is responsible for paying respect

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Randall Cumberworth
  • 35th Fighter Wing Director of Staff
It is not only part of our military customs and courtesies for members of the Armed Forces station in Japan to honor both the American and Japanese Flags during retreat, it is a requirement governed by Air Force Instruction.

The proper action for military members in uniform is to come to attention, face the flags or music if the flags are not visible and salute during the playing of both the Japanese and American National Anthems. Members out of uniform will honor the flags by saluting or by placing their right hand over their heart. If in a vehicle, members will pull the car to the side of the road and stop. All occupants will sit quietly at attention until the last note of the music is played.

There has been some confusion as to what actions to take while conducting individual physical training and during squadron and team sports. Members may have seen policies at other bases where the wing commander waived requirements to stop while conducting individual P.T. A June, 2009 change to AFI 36-1201, Protocol, clarifies the issue: "All sporting or physical training actives will stop during Reveille and Retreat with proper honors to the flag being showed." When asked about the waiver, Col Stilwell commented "I had hoped to institute a waiver here, but the Jun 2009 AFI update takes that prerogative from the wing commander."

It is important for us to teach our children the proper traditions as well. While at home, have your children stop playing and show respect. Teach them to be silent and still during the ceremony. While easier said than done initially, children learn quickly, and it is a wonderful tradition for children to grow up with. It helps them learn about the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and to honor those who made these freedoms possible.