Honors to the Flag, National Anthem, and More


Reveille is played over the “Giant Voice” speakers at 7:30 AM here at Ellsworth AFB to signify the beginning of the work day.


Retreat and the National Anthem:

The retreat ceremony signals the end of the official duty day and serves as a ceremony for paying respect to the United States flag. Retreat and the National Anthem are played one after the other and will come over the “Giant Voice” speakers at 5:00 PM here at Ellsworth AFB.


Anyone outside a building should stop where they are at the first note of retreat and face the flag (or music if the flag is not visible). Military members will assume the position of parade rest.

Vehicles in motion are brought to a halt; the radio, if on, should be turned off. Everyone, including the driver, remains quietly seated.

The National Anthem

When outdoors, military members in uniform will come to attention at the first note of the National Anthem and render the proper salute throughout the anthem.

Civilians or military members in civilian clothes should remove hats (if worn) and place their right hand over their heart throughout the anthem.

When the national anthem is played indoors at a formal gathering, military members in uniform will stand at attention facing the flag (or music if flag is not present). They will not salute. Civilians or members in civilian clothes will stand (at attention) with their right hand over their heart.


Taps is played over the “Giant Voice” speakers at 10:00 PM here at Ellsworth AFB. It is sounded nightly on military installations at non-deployed locations to indicate that it is “lights out”. Taps is also played at the conclusion of military funerals conducted with honors.


The Air Force Song:

The Air Force song is often played at military functions and generally those attending sing along.

Air Force Song


Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At ’em boys, Giver ‘er the gun! (Give ‘er the gun!)
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing’ll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Ruffles and Flourishes:

Ruffles and flourishes are preceding fanfare for honors music (ceremonial music for distinguished people). Ruffles are played on drums, and flourishes are played on bugles. For example, the President of the United States receives four ruffles and flourishes before “Hail to the Chief.”

For each star a general has they would play 1 ruffle and flourish followed by General’s March. For example, for a Brigadier General (1 star) they would play 1 ruffle and flourish versus for a Lieutenant General (3 stars) they would play 3 ruffle and flourishes. You can listen to the difference below:

1 Ruffle and Flourish, followed by General’s March

3 Ruffle and Flourishes, followed by General’s March