MacDill Airmen pay respect to the red, white and blue

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
As the American flag waves freely in the wind, the national anthem sounds cueing its lowering. Base-wide, Service members alike come to attention and present arms, while civilians place their hands over their hearts.

As the anthem concludes, the Airmen assigned to their solemn duty unhook the flag from the flagpole and they begin to meticulously fold it. With a final tuck, the flag is secured.

The retreat ceremony, a time honored event, has been performed for centuries. Even during the start of our nation, the American Army used it during the Revolutionary War.

For MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, the historic ceremony is performed monthly by various squadrons throughout the base.

The ceremony not only symbolizes the end of the duty day, but a way to honor the flag. The sound of retreat can hold
individual meaning for everyone.

For Tech. Sgt. Jermaine Roundtree, a coordinator for a recent retreat ceremony, it is a time to reflect on the day.

"On a personal level, if I'm outside when retreat and the national anthem plays, I use it as an opportunity to reflect on if I made a difference today," explains Roundtree. "If I did, great, but if I didn't or I feel like I didn't, I think to myself 'I will try harder tomorrow.'"

With such a symbolic ceremony, comes coordination and time to achieve success. The formation must be prepared for drill movements, the formation commander must know when to give the proper commands, and everyone involved in the flag detail must master the timing required to lower the flag at the same rate the national anthem plays.

"Being a part of the retreat ceremony gives me the opportunity to show my patriotism and allegiance," explained Staff Sgt. Jared Metcalfe, a member of the flag detail. "I have a passion for my country and was able to show my respect for America in the ceremony."

Retreat speaks for itself as the sound can be heard on installations around the world.

Retreat in foreign nations displays America's strength.

"Having been overseas, hearing the national anthem play while in a foreign country is probably the biggest symbol of the United States," explained Roundtree.

Whether stateside or overseas the United States flag represents freedom, something the Air Force, as well as the other branches, continue to fight for. The retreat ceremony provides time to pay respect as well as reflect on being a part of a greater force.