I heard 'Retreat' today

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Scott Hubbartt
  • contributing writer
I stopped by the base shoppette today after a long day of yard work. Lately, I don't often get out to the base much. Just before entering, I heard the scratchy recording of 'To the Colors' start to bleat out of the public address system.

Without thinking, out of habit I turned toward the music. It was an old familiar sound and an automatic response. I noted a couple of cars stop, and young, clean-shaven, short-haired guys step out and assume the position. A row over a woman with a toddler, fidgeting and squirming, also stepped out and held her child into the wind, toward the music.

The anthem sounded, and the three of them beat my own hand to my breast. That good feeling spilled over me. The tradition respected; honors paid; all the discipline flooded over me in a moment.

Ten years ago, shortly after returning from yet another overseas posting, my eleven-year-old daughter noted that taps did not play at our new base on the West Coast. It had long been the final warning that bed-time 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 asked 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 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 write her a nice letter, but never satisfied her disappointment.

From that day on I have paid more attention to these honors which we come to take for granted. I appreciate and 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; it's something special we share.

I heard retreat today, and I greatly enjoyed it.