An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Take a moment to honor other's sacrifices

  • Published
  • By Capt. Douglas J. Pietersma
  • 20th Air Force Director of Intelligence
I read a comment on a social networking site by a military spouse and former military member asking "Why do they play Taps so loud at 11:00 p.m.?" I could take this as an inquiry into the history of Taps, but more likely it was a complaint that Taps was annoying.

During a previous assignment of mine, a person wrote into the "Commander's Action Line" and complained about reveille playing so early in the morning that it disturbed family sleep. The commander promptly cancelled reveille entirely. Only after fervent outrage did the commander reinstate reveille, but at a later hour to accommodate the original complainant.

I have seen far to many uniformed military members rushing to get into a building or into their cars to avoid being "caught" by Retreat and suffering the seemingly unbearable torture of standing at attention and saluting for just over a minute.

Now, I am a parent of young children, and I'm sympathetic to the plight of a parent dealing with a child's sleep schedule. That being said, is it the worst thing in the world that we, or our children, should be disturbed by traditions designed to call to remembrance ultimate sacrifice?

If I may make a couple suggestions:

If reveille plays and wakes you before your scheduled time, take a moment to pray for the soldier who stands guard in hostile territory, the sailor on watch on the high seas, the marine on all-night maneuvers and the airman in flight to guard the United States against those that would take our freedom and our lives.

Every once and a while, go outside a few minutes before 4:30 p.m. and wait for the national anthem to play...intentionally. When you hear the music, think of the words. Also, consider the flag, what the colors stand for and the sacrifices of all those who have made it possible for this nation to be what it is today.

When taps plays and wakes your children, put them back to sleep with a prayer for the families of those who have not returned alive from the battlefield. Be thankful for their service and honor their sacrifice.

Learn and explain to your families the significance, history and purpose behind these traditions. Now ask the question, "Why do they play Taps so loud at 11:00 p.m.?"