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    Military courtesies: Special music

    Military courtesies: Special music

    Photo By Laurie Pearson | During morning colors the Duty NCO’s responsibility is to observe the raising of the...... read more read more



    Story by Laurie Pearson 

    Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow

    During the recent Marine Corps Customs and Courtesies Course held aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, distinctive and detailed instructions were given for expected procedures to be adhered to during the playing of special music over the loud speakers.

    Special music is usually played four times a day on nearly all military installations, to include MCLB Barstow.

    “In addition to the two Colors ceremonies which take place twice a day, the Marine Corps also honors Reveille and Taps,” said Master Sgt. Bory Chann, inspector chief with the base Inspector General’s office. “In the Marine Corps, Reveille is played at 0530. Its purpose is to signify the beginning of the duty day.

    Taps is played at 2200. It signifies the end of the duty day, but more importantly, it honors those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The same music is played at military funerals.”

    “At Reveille and Taps, it’s music only as there are no flag/colors flying at those times,” explained Lt. Col. Timothy Silkowski, base executive officer. “Regarding Reveille, there is no expectation to stop what you’re doing and/or show any signs of respect.

    However, regarding Taps, AKA Butterfield’s Lullaby, considering that it’s the same musical honors played at the conclusion of funerals for our military-fallen, it’s appropriate to stop what you’re doing, come to attention and face the music.”

    The ceremonial times are established because of historical tradition, but they are also required according to Department of the Navy regulations, he explained.

    “In the 1800s, Reveille and Taps was also used to inform sentries and guards when to stop and start using challenging codes to identify friendly and enemy forces,” he said.

    During Reveille, all military personnel participating in outdoor activities (to include, but not limited to, walking, individual physical training), should stop their activity to show respect for the flag, according to the U.S. Flag Code, Navy Regulations and Marine Corps Orders. They are to face the flag if it is visible. If it is not visible then they should face the direction of the music. They stand at parade rest until the music finishes, then they may carry-on with their activities.

    Any civilians should also stop what they are doing, face the direction of the flag or music, remove any hats and wait for the music to finish. All drivers are directed to pull over to the side of the road and stop their motor vehicle, then sit at attention until the ceremony ends. Once the music stops and the final tones are issues, you may continue about your business. Similar procedures are expected during Morning and Evening Colors.

    “The Colors ceremony is a military tradition dating back to the mid-1800s, and provides an opportunity to reflect on the men and women who had previously served and for current members to continue on that legacy,” Chann said. “The Marine Corps conducts the Colors ceremony twice a day.

    At 0800 the National Flag is raised, and at sunset it is lowered.”

    During the Colors ceremony, the Colors detail carries the flag to the flag pole and attaches the grommets to the halyard (rope) snaps. This detail consists of three Marines. Two Marines carry and attach the flag in the morning, and remove it at night, while the third Marine is the noncommissioned officer in charge, supervising the ceremony.

    “During Colors, if outdoors, service members are required to stop what they’re doing, face the Flag and render a salute during the National Anthem,” Chann said. “If the location of the Flag is unobservable and unknown, they will face the direction the music is playing from. Retirees may also render a salute. Civilians are expected to also pay the same respect by removing any headgear and placing their right hand over their heart. Vehicles are to pull over to the shoulder, and wait until the ceremony is over.”

    The order of the music is specifically intended to give anyone on base first an alert, then the ceremonial music, then a signal to carry-on with their day.

    “The first tone is called ‘First Call’ and is played 5 minutes prior to the Colors Ceremony, letting people know Colors is coming up,” Chann said. “Then ‘Attention’ is played approximately 3 seconds prior to the Colors Ceremony, signifying to everyone to come to a halt with whatever they’re doing, and face the flag or direction of music. Then the Colors Ceremony will begin with the playing of the National Anthem. Once that is complete, there will be a momentary pause of approximately 3 seconds at which time service members will complete their salutes and civilians will place their hands by their sides. Then ‘Carryon’ is sounded, informing everyone to carry-on with what they were doing.”

    There are a few flag traditions of importance to the United States Marine Corps, as well, in order to ensure proper respect is paid to the flag itself.

    “It is important to note that the National Flag is never dipped,” said Chann. “During the playing of the National Anthem, if there are other flags present, i.e. State Flags, Unit Colors, etc., those flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor. This is most noticeable during military ceremonies where a Color Guard is present.”

    As a signal of respect the National Flag may be raised at “half-staff ”, when ordered by the President of the United States, in order to honor the death of a principal figure of the United States of America.

    “The duration flown at ‘half-staff ’ is dependent upon the dignitary and governed by the U.S. Flag code,” Chann explained. “When it is flown at ‘half-staff ’, it is raised all the way to the top, then lowered to the halfway point of the flag pole. Conversely, before being lowered, it is once again raised to top of the flag pole, then lowered all the way down.”

    The only full day that the National Flag is flown at “half-staff ” is Memorial Day, in honor all service members who have passed away.

    “These ceremonies are not just for military members,” Chann said. “The U.S. Flag Code requires all persons present to pay the respect during the raising and lowering of the flag. But more importantly, everyone should remember that the flag embodies everyone that has ever served in the defense of freedom and those who have lost their lives in that defense.”

    If anyone is sponsoring guests, including contractors, please be sure to inform them of these requirements and protocols so as to ensure that they render proper respect to special music, to the American flag, and to the customs and courtesies of the United States Marine Corps.



    Date Taken: 04.11.2019
    Date Posted: 04.17.2019 13:54
    Story ID: 318526

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