So we live on a military base. For those of you who are not familiar with military bases, there are 2 things that happen every day. Reveille and Retreat. Reveille happens in the morning. Usually about 7AM. A short chipper tune called “Reveille” is played on loudspeakers that roar across the entire base as the flag is raised. If you have kids, forget about them sleeping past this hour, because the volume is intended for everyone to hear, indoors and outdoors. Later in the day, usually about dinner time, Retreat occurs. It is a similar ceremony accompanied with the playing of “Taps” and the National Anthem. When Retreat starts, everyone stops what they are doing, stands and faces the flag with either a salute or a hand over the heart. If you are driving, you pull over and wait until it has ended before going on your way. Taps also plays again at 10PM signaling the end of the day and beginning of quiet hours.
My first time on a military base, I was quite confused with what was going on. Why were cars stopping in the middle of the road? Why were joggers caught in their tracks facing… I didn’t know what? I figured it all out quickly and it soon was just the norm. One of my favorite things about the evening retreat is to see the kids outside playing come to an immediate halt and stand with respect for our country and our flag.
The other day I was at the park with my daughter. Retreat began and the 3 and 4 year olds immediately stopped and stood with their hands over their hearts. My daughter, being a few year younger and completely clueless continued on her merry way pulling a wagon around. One little boy became quite frustrated and started to chase her yelling at her to stop and put her hand on her heart! She just saw a scary “big kid” coming at her and she high tailed it in my direction. The boy caught up to her and grabbed her hand and put it on her heart. She pushed herself away from him and kept running towards me with her little waddle. But this time her right hand was placed firmly against her chest and as she got to me she said, “Mommy! Hand Heart!” I had to chuckle because the whole ordeal was so funny to watch. And I’m sure that my little girl still has no idea why that little boy chased her down. But she hasn’t forgotten. And every day since when we have been outside during Retreat, though she doesn’t stand still, her hand goes to her heart – since she knows that’s what all the “big kids” do.
Living on a military base is full of patriotism. As I stood at the park that day, with 7 other moms and a gaggle of children, I couldn’t help but admire the gusto in which that little boy taught my daughter to place her hand on her heart! And someday, when she is old enough to understand, I will teach my daughter why we do just that.