Commentary: Preserving Army traditions, history
By: Command Sgt. Maj. Lance P. Lehr, 1st AD and Fort Bliss Command Sergeant Major
Fort Bliss (U.S. Army) — As I mentioned in my first column, one of the most important priorities I have as your division command sergeant major is reestablishing and reinforcing our Army and division history and traditions here at Fort Bliss.
The Army we serve in today was built on the traditions of men and women who served in our organization for the past 239 years. To this day, many of the things we do as Soldiers originate from those traditions, including the way we structure our days.
During the Revolutionary War, cannons and bugle calls were used to regulate time for troops on the battlefield. At sunrise, buglers sounded “Reveille” to wake troops and notify guards to cease the use of challenging.
This routine was also used at sunset, when cannons alerted troops to return to camp – marking an end to the day’s fighting and tasks. Over time, this common practice became embedded within our history, which is why we still perform it throughout the Army today.
Here at Fort Bliss, the duty day begins at 6:30 a.m. with the sounding of “Reveille” and ends at 5 p.m. with “Retreat” and “To the Colors.” As Soldiers, and as stewards of our Army lineage, it is important we continue this tradition and the honors associated with it.
When the first notes of “Reveille” are heard, Soldiers not in formation should face the American flag and render a salute until the last note of music has played. If a flag is not visible during the bugle call, Soldiers should face the direction of music and render their salutes.
In formation, the officer or noncommissioned officer-in-charge should give the command “Present Arms” on the first note of music, followed by “Order Arms” after the final note.
The call of “Retreat” is sounded immediately before “To the Colors” and when heard, Soldiers not in formation should face the flag, go to the position of attention and render a salute when “To the Colors” is played.
Soldiers in formation should be called “Parade Rest” when “Retreat” is played, followed by the command “Attention” and “Present Arms” on the sounding of “To the Colors.” After the music has finished, Soldiers should be given the command, “Order Arms.”
If traveling in a vehicle during these times, Soldiers should stop, safely exit their vehicles and render the proper honors to our nation’s colors. Please note these standards apply to Soldiers in uniform or in civilian clothes – on or off duty – while on all military installations.
Conducting this simple, yet important tradition at the individual and unit level allows us to preserve Army history while representing the commitment and discipline our profession requires.
The lessons, traditions, and lineage of our units can also help bridge the generational gaps between Soldiers and leaders at Fort Bliss. Friday, I posted a professional article on my Facebook page – In the Turret with Iron 7 – that highlighted this very topic.
In the article, 1st Sgt. Jaime R. Castro, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 16th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, discusses how senior leaders can better connect with the newer generation of troops by way of shared unit history. I encourage every leader to review the article and look for ways to implement its ideas within your individual units.
As always, I ask that you continue to do the right thing and set a positive example for others to follow. Iron Soldiers!
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