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Recently, as I’ve been out and about around the base in the mornings, I’ve noticed something that’s been getting under my skin – people failing to stop and show respect when they play the national anthem. I’ve seen this from both those in uniform and civilians. If you’re one of them, here are a couple of reasons I’d ask you to reconsider.

Customs and courtesies – In the military, we observe these. We salute, we address people a certain way and we stop, stand at attention and salute when the national anthem is played. We do this because it sets us apart as an organization. It shows that we take pride in who we are and what we stand for. And if you’re a civilian, it shows that you respect the culture of that organization just as you respect certain rules when you’re a guest in someone’s home.

Tradition – Morning colors is something that is done at military installations across the world. It has been done for as long as most can remember. Tradition is not something we do because, “we’ve always done it that way.” It’s something we do because it binds us to those who have served before us and because it reminds us of what we stand for.

Finally, there is the best and simplest reason for stopping for those two minutes in the morning. It’s the right thing to do. When I’ve seen patients come out of the hospital in the morning to pay their respects, it’s the right thing to do. When you see everyone else around you stopping, it’s the right thing to do. And when we have people just inside the doors that sit opposite the flag pole who have sacrificed so much for their country, it’s the right thing to do.

I’m not trying to preach to you. I’m just asking that you think about why we carry out this simple yet important tradition every morning. I hope I’ve gotten you thinking about why we stop and pay our respects to the flag. And if you’re one of the people I’ve seen, one of those who keeps walking or driving when everyone else has stopped, take a moment to reconsider.

Chief Master-at-Arms

Marty McQuagge

Naval Support Activity Bethesda

Senior Enlisted Leader