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I heard "Retreat" today - That good old feeling

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Scott Hubbartt
  • Retired
I don't get out to the base much these days. I don't even remember now what I needed to pick up, but after a long day of yard work I stopped by the base shoppette. I found a good parking spot and headed into the store, and just before entering, I heard the scratchy recording of 'To the Colors' start to bleat out of the public address system. It was an old, familiar sound and an automatic response. Out of habit and without thinking I turned toward the music. I noted a couple of cars stop, and young, clean-shaven, short-haired guys step out and assume the position. Nearby, a woman with a fidgeting and squirming toddler also stepped out of her car and held her child into the wind, toward the music.

The anthem sounded, and all three of their hands beat my own hand to my breast. That good feeling spilled over me. The tradition respected, honors paid - all the discipline and regiment flooded over me.

Fifteen years ago, shortly after returning from yet another overseas posting, my 11-year-old daughter noted that "Taps" did not play at our new base on the west coast. "Taps" had long served as the final warning that bedtime had come and gone and it was time to settle down and get to sleep.

She asked me, "Daddy, why don't they play 'Taps' here?"

Distracted I replied, "I don't know honey, ask the general."

About a week later the command chief said to me, "Hey, the boss got your wife's letter, what's the deal with 'Taps?'"

Confused, I said, "My wife's letter? What letter?"

When he showed it to me I laughed and told him it was not from my wife; it was from my 11-year-old daughter. He too laughed and asked me what I wanted the boss to do with it.

I told him, "He should answer her." The general did just that and wrote her a nice letter explaining his policy.

From that day on I have paid more attention to these honors which we have come to take for granted. I appreciate and yes, even relish them. It's too bad we only hear "Reveille," "Retreat" and "Taps" inside the gates, but then again it's nice. It is sort of a symbol of our brotherhood...our bond; something special we share.

I heard "Retreat" today, and I greatly enjoyed it.