Respect for the flag

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. J.C. Cross
  • 66th Comptroller Squadron
As the tenth anniversary of the worst nightmare in American history arrives, I stop and reflect on that day and the time thereafter. I remember the tears and the sorrow. I remember the disbelief we all felt. But what I remember most is the way this nation came together and vowed to not accept that terrible act laying down. Those terrorists thought they would destroy the pride we have in this country, but they couldn't be more wrong. Instead, we came together and honored our flag and what it stood for.

Remember the images of the American flag draped over the still-burning Pentagon and World Trade Center? How could any of us ever forget those pictures?

Ten years later, though, it is disappointing to see how some people treat "Old Glory" on our installation. Every single day at 5 p.m. our national anthem plays, signifying the end of the duty day. This is a time for us all -- meaning all Americans -- to pay our respects to the red, white and blue, remember the history and traditions of the flag and remember the struggles We, as a country, have persevered to be where we are today.

Each day at 5 p.m. when the music plays, per 36 U.S.C. Section 301, all military members in uniform face the flag or the sound of the music and salute, or if in civilian clothes, military members stand at attention and place their right hand over their heart. All others should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over their heart. Additionally, if you are in a vehicle, you should bring your vehicle to a complete stop and sit quietly until the music ends.

Here at Hanscom Air Force Base, this does not happen as it should. Routinely, I observe many people not paying proper respect to the flag and, when I can, I approach them and ask if they understand what that "noise" they just heard means and what they should do. The answers vary from, "Oh, sorry" to "I was in a hurry," just to name a few. Just this past week, my wife and I flagged down a car that was trying to pass us while we were stopped during our nation's song and asked why he hadn't stopped. The gentlemen said to us, "I had no idea what that was or what to do."

Imagine this: here we are, in the birthplace of America, in an area where the founders of this great nation fought and died to establish our way of life and people today have no clue what to do during the playing of the national anthem while on a military installation and employed by the United States Department of Defense. It's hard to believe, I know, but sadly it is true.

So, what do I ask? I ask simply that the word be spread that the noises we hear daily at 7:30 a.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. are actually Reveille, the national anthem and the playing of taps. These are very short periods of time that we should all stop and remember the sacrifices of our forefathers, remember those that perished ten short years ago, remember those that are fighting and dying right now to preserve our freedoms and all those who put so much on the line every single day to make this great nation stay the greatest nation of all.