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On the rendering of honors at Retreat

Soldier flagrantly avoids flag salute, sets off online outrage.

 I have a different take on this, coming as I do from an era where Retreat literally caused an installation to pause and face the flag - to the point of people pulling over and getting out of their cars, and end of day formations being scheduled to facilitate unit participation in the tradition.

This is *not* that Army. I say that without rancor. It just isn't.

And it isn't because *the leaders* have made it so.

Anybody who wants to hammer this soldier for this action *better not* have been the Lieutenant Colonels and Majors I routinely see at Fort Leavenworth rushing to get under cover to avoid having to render honors.

Anybody who wants to hammer this soldier for this action *better not* be the Sergeants I saw ignoring the bugle on their way to their cars, who got in and drove away as the music was playing over in the Old DB complex.

And anybody who wants to hammer this soldier for this action *better not* be the Colonel who was with those Sergeants, doing what those Sergeants were doing.

I usually don't say a word to those people. As a fat old retiree I can't catch them as they run from their duty. I just stop, face the flag, assume parade rest and salute when the flag starts dropping from the truck. They might notice a little smidge of contempt when I catch their eye as they slink away.

But I have called them on it to their face at a later moment, if I know them. The excuses and other responses, some hostile, are instructive.

The answer is *not* to excoriate this troop. It is *not* to make it her terminal rank. It is *not* to suggest that this she should be a candidate for expulsion in the drawdown. It is not to throw yourself into a smug, self-righteous state of high dudgeon.

The answer, boys and girls, is simple.

The answer is for leaders to - dare I suggest it - *Lead.*

By example.

26 Comments

Well said and exactly my sentiments. Soldiers do what leaders do.
 
 "Lead?"
What a novel concept...

 
 
 "Lead?"
What a novel concept...

 
 
 John and Ivncenturion, *Very well stated!* *Lead by example, show them what to do and not just tell the Soldiers what to do!* There is a Spirit of Leadership, that rests on the shoulders of our Military Leaders  24/7/52. They will always be on display. Victories and failures are teaching tools, *use them*. The purpose of a Military Leader is to serve his Troops, not to cover his own ass.
 
So this isn't an isolated example of a disrespectful troop.

One of the reasons I always liked this place is the glimpses of sanity you provide, compared to the over-the-top reactions one sees elsewhere.

 
It is not only the Army.
Someone should count the number of people outside at a Navy base or on a ship a little before, during and just after colors.
I can't say that I have not checked my watch to either delay or hurry before leaving a building or ship. 
But if you are outside. It's simple, you stand and salute.
 
Grumpy, you have such a medieval view of things. :-) The Armorer and I grew up under similar conditions and well remember retreat at Sembach AFB, Adair AFB, Lackland AFB, and Ramstein. We were staying in the hospitality house on Ramstein AFB and my father happened to look out back where we had been playing when Retreat sounded. My next younger brother was putzing about and as soon retreat was over he called him in and flew all over him. He didn't go outside the remainder of the time we stayed there. Every one of those bases came to a standstill when retreat sounded. Same at NOB Norfolk. In that regard, the military culture was the same no matter the branch. Any officers sighted avoiding rendering honors should be hauled in an cashiered. If they will skate on something seemingly so minor there is no telling what else they are cutting corners on.
 
 Quartermaster, I guess you're right, if you consider the 1960s as medieval, I'm guilty. I knew those times, as well. As I was reading your comment, I found myself asking a question, "What would Quartermaster's Father have commented?" But as I finished your comment, I came to believe I know the answer. I believe, he would have been proud. You did a bit of fine writing.

About me being medieval, you're doing pretty good yourself. ; - )
 
 I resemble that remark :-)
 
 I recall a time in the 90's.  Pulling staff duty NCO at Greely Hall, sunny Ft. Huachuca.  At 1630, I was required to observe the flag detail and report on their decorum, professionalism, and precision.  I was never able to do that.  There were so many senior NCO's and field grade officers packed against the doors, ready to run to their cars and go home yet unwilling to go outside and salute the flag of their nation, that I could not exit the building.  These were the same "leaders" who would not hesitate to jack up a Soldier for a minor infraction.

As Mr. Kipling said.  Tommy sees.

Here ended the lesson.
 
Sorry to....

No, not sorry to disagree. 

It wasn't the staying in the car to avoid colors, it was the agressive, in-your-face, I don't care, posting of her doing it that I believe has set most folks off.  They just reacted to the wrong thing.

It's one thing to be a slacker.  It's something else entirely to go into a tirade about why you think you're entitled to be one when you already know your'e not on the correct side of it.
 
I'm gonna' have to go with Deckard95 here,
Doing it is one thing.
Taking a "Selfie" and braging about on social-media is another.

That's a Beatin'.
 
The selfie goes straight to dumb... I'm from the early 70's, Army, and remember the part about the Post/Installation activity pause, the MP's blocked the gates as well. The comments on the Leaders is spot on...
 
Very well said, Sir!
 
Monkee see, monkee do, indeed. Conduct unbecoming.
 
I agree with Deckard.

I've pulled my car over and gotten out and saluted. And if I'm merely at my car.....I saluted.   I've always been proud to render honors.  Whenever I'm outside...I saluted.

99.99% of the time. 
 I will admit to once or twice...."hurrying" to get inside......  if I was near the office.

It was the attitude.  THAT's the problem.
 
Leadership is many things, including responsibility. But therein lies the rub, because you can delegate your authority but you can never delegate your responsibility as it is always yours, even when you're sound asleep.
 
 Hogday, You have written a fine piece about a very important insight into leadership. It almost sounds like you are one of the Armorer's "Auld Pharts". If so, "Welcome!"
 
Hog's been here a time or two since Lex chased his chips in. He's not an old military phart, but he is retired British Police old phart. Close enough in my book.
 
I find the fact that The Armorer has to address this is infuriating. When is saw the orginal article, I thought, "Holy Shite, she said WHAT?!?" Then I read John's comeback vis-a-vis the under-rock-dwellers in the leadership cadre at Leavenworth apparently running for cover when Retreat sounded.

Me? I'd pull over, get OUT OF MY CAR and render appropriate honors when I wore the uniform...and, oh, by the way, I relished those times when I was in a flight suit because it made many heads explode (alas, I guess).

Again and again and again I defer to LCOL Frank Slade, "I outta take a FLAMETHROWER TO THIS PLACE!"

Brought to you by a proud member of the retired class working for the 8th Most Admired Company in the world (and #1 Delivery Company)...in Japan (after 10+ hours in the air I ROLLED that 510,000lb B777 f**ker on 34L at Narita). GodDAMN that felt good.

Anyway, the next time I'm on Grissom ARB, I'm gonna make it a point to do what I used to do, only this time in civvies, just to send a message if I'm there at 1700L. Nobody may see it but I don't give a shite. And that's the point. Character is what you do when nobody's looking. God Bless America and all the SOBs who gave their all for her. THAT'S why I'm saluting.
 
All this brings back a smile and fond memory of the mini-chaos at the Naval Station piers in San Diego. Could be as many as 20 Destroyers and Cruisers in port some days all doing morning and evening colors at the same time...well more or less anyway.
 
 QM, I've had the honor of reading some of Hogday's writing over at Lex's website. He is with British Law Enforcement, in spite of this, we can all learn from him. He is just a British LEO "Auld Phart", to be specific.  ; - )    -Grumpy
 
 Heh. Clearly, I'm a squish. People are standing around the sapling chanting, "Burn her! Burn her!" when the problem is the diseased oaks that make up the forest. Which is one reason the oaks are diseased, and killing the forest.

We're burning the wrong trees.
 
Well said, John. Leadership by example..... I do believe, that this little "fuss" is going to place a great deal of visibility on Retreat. In my time, it was a privilege to raise and lower the Colors. But then again, I was raised with a strong set of standards and values.
 
 My question is this, are the diseased oaks the source of the problem or just a symptom? Yes, I know the analogy is about leadership failures and our responses to them. We are looking for an answer that can be replicated, every time. Or can it? But first, we need to understand, in a wider sense. You appear to put a great amount of emphasis on the sapling in the crowd's response to it, "Burn her!" But under your analysis, you appeared to be saying that the problem is not with the sapling, but the real problem is with the environment or the trees around it. Let's take a look at the solution prescribed by the analogy. Fire plays an interesting role in our environment. Some trees are destroyed but other species of trees actually require fire to reproduce, for example, the yellow pine. Fire actually opens the pine cone and allows the seed to disperse.

Getting back to your original question, first we need to understand and let the chips fall where there may. To understand, we need to ask questions. Where do you think this problem started and why? I will try to give you my answer, but I am sure it is not adequate. In my view, the where, the when and the why are all connected. Today, we live in a Nation that has at all-volunteer force, there is no draft. Many of these people volunteered in the Post 9/11 World. Therefore, I will not say all, but overwhelmingly most of our Nation's leaders are absolutely clueless on an experiential level. I am not saying that they don't care, but I believe that they don't understand. I do not believe everybody should be in the military, but there is a mindset of service and loyalty to this nation, which every American Citizen should be a part of their character. Every citizen of this nation should be deeply concerned about how we treat our veterans and retired service personnel, enlisted or  officer. As George Washington said it, (paraphrase), the young people will look at how we treat the military service people and used that as a gauge to their future involvement with the military. (1798)

What are today's young people seeing in our actions as the nation? The "diseased oaks", that John refers to in his analogy, just may be us. Many of the major corporations could not operate around the world without the protection of our Military, either here or there. Just something to think about.
 

 Congratulations on thinking way harder than I was, Grumpy!

You chop down and burn infected trees.  That's where I was at.

I wasn't for burning down the forest in order to save it - though, as you point out, that works in nature, if it's a bit rough on the biome while it's happening.