THE RETREAT CEREMONY

RETREAT IS A DAILY CEREMONY HELD AT ALL ARMY INSTALLATIONS AS THE NATIONAL FLAG IS LOWERED AT THE END OF THE WORK DAY. IT IS SCHEDULED AT A DEFINITE TIME IN LATE AFTERNOON: THE PRECISE TIME LEFT TO THE DISCRETION OF THE INSTALLATION COMMANDER. AT FORT MONMOUTH THE TIME DESIGNATED IS 1700 HOURS (5:00 PM).

THE CEREMONIES OF RETREAT IN THE AFTERNOON, COUPLED WITH REVEILLE IN THE MORNING CONSTITUTE A DIGNIFIED HOMAGE TO THE NATIONAL FLAG FROM ITS RAISING TO ITS LOWERING.

THE BUGLE CALL "RETREAT" IS SOUNDED JUST BEFORE THE ACTUAL LOWERING OF THE FLAG. AT THE LAST NOTE OF THIS CALL, A CANNON IS FIRED. THEN, IF A BAND IS PRESENT, THE NATIONAL ANTHEM WILL BE RENDERED. IN THE ABSENCE OF A BAND, THE BUGLE CALL "TO THE COLORS" IS SUBSTITUTED. AS THE ANTHEM, OR "TO THE COLORS" IS SOUNDED, THE FLAG IS LOWERED. THE LOWERING OF THE FLAG WILL BE REGULATED SO AS TO BE COMPLETED WITH THE LAST NOTE OF THE MUSIC.

ALL PERSONNEL WITHIN SIGHT OR SOUND OF THE CEREMONY WILL COME TO ATTENTION AND RENDER THE APPROPRIATE SALUTE, FACING THE FLAG. VEHICULAR TRAFFIC WILL COME TO A HALT, AND THE DRIVER OR INDIVIDUAL IN CHARGE OF THE VEHICLE WILL DISMOUNT TO RENDER HONORS.

THE RETREAT CEREMONY IS KNOWN TO HAVE BEEN IN USE IN THE AMERICAN ARMY SINCE THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR. AT THAT TIME IT WAS SOUNDED BY DRUMS-THE NORMAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT FOUND IN THE IN

FANTRY UNITS OF THAT PERIOD.

THE HISTORY OF THE EVENING GUN IS MUCH OLDER. INITIALLY IT WAS NOT CONNECTED WITH A FLAG LOWERING. ONE LEGEND HAS IT THAT IT WAS INITIALLY FIRED TO DRIVE AWAY EVIL SPIRITS. THAT WOULD PUT ITS ORIGIN BACK IN THE MIDDLE AGES WHEN GUNPOWDER WAS INTRODUCED INTO EUROPE, AND MUCH EARLIER IN THE ORIENT.

IT SEEMS LOGICAL IN MORE MODERN TIMES THAT THE FIRING OF A GUN NEAR SUNSET WAS INTENDED TO CALL THE TROOPS BACK TO THE FORT OR CAMP FROM THEIR FATIGUE DUTIES OF THE DAY. THE BOOMING OF THE CANNON COULD BE HEARD AT A GREATER DISTANCE THAN THE SOUND OF EITHER DRUM OR BUGLE.

FINALLY, A PARADE CAN BE HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE RETREAT CEREMONY. THE COMBINATION OF RANKS OF SMARTLY UNIFORMED TROOPS, THE SOUND OF THE EVENING GUN AND THE BAND PLAYING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM CONSTITUTES ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRING OF UNITED STATES ARMY CEREMONIES.

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Command Historian

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Last Date Modified: March 29, 2004