I have a friend that just earned a DMA in Theatrical Music. She’s very attractive and we’ve dated off and on for a few years. We went out for dinner then dancing. On the way home I asked her out to dinner for next Wednesday. She declined and said she was going to the musical Wicked. I told her I was jealous, I’ve wanted to see wicked but can’t afford the time or money to travel to see it. She looked at me like aliens had taken over my body. Then she called me a liar! She accused me of having ulterior motives in wanting to see a musical. I was bewildered. So, I asked her for further explanation. She told me that a former Marine would have no interest in music. I was stunned. She has a Doctor of Musical Arts and she had no knowledge of the musical traditions of the military.

For those that have never been in the military let me enlighten you. We sing when we run. It’s called cadence. My personal cadence call has always been a bluesy jazz style of cadence. No I don’t scream it out. I sing it. Just like my senior drill instructor did. We drill (March) to cadence and to band music. We have a Marine hymn, a Navy hymn, a U.S. Army hymn, an Air Force hymn; even the Coast Guard has a hymn. The Navy marching song is Anchors Away. Every branch of the military has a Music Corps. To this very day the military still uses bugle calls. Taps is a song that can bring a tear to even the hardest marine.

Proper military Courtesies include:

Reveille
1. Soldiers in formation: Execute the commands of the officer or non-commissioned officer in charge.
2. Soldiers in uniform but not in formation: Face the flag (or the direction of the music if the flag is not in view) and render a hand salute until the last note of music.
3. Civilians and Soldiers wearing civilian clothes: Face the flag, come to the position of attention, remove any headgear with the right hand, and place the right hand over the heart until the last note of music. Soldiers, veterans, and retirees wearing may render a hand salute rather than placing their hand over their heart

"Retreat and To the Color"
1. Soldiers in formation: Execute the commands of the officer or non-commissioned officer in charge.
2. Soldiers in uniform but not in formation: Face the flag, stand at attention until the firing of the cannon or the first note of “To the Color,” then render a hand salute until the last note of music.
3. Civilians and Soldiers wearing civilian clothes: Face the flag, stand at attention, remove any headgear with the right hand, and place the right hand over the heart until the last note of music. Soldiers, veterans, and retirees wearing may render a hand salute rather than placing their hand over their heart (see note 1 below).

"To The Color"
1. Soldiers in formation will execute "Present Arms" and “Order Arms” at the command of the officer or non-commissioned officer in charge.
2. Soldiers in uniform but not in formation will render a hand salute at the first note of music, if outdoors, or stand at attention, if indoors.
3. Civilians and Soldiers wearing civilian clothes will face the flag (or music), stand at attention, remove any headgear with the right hand, and place the right hand over the heart until the last note of music. Soldiers, veterans, and retirees wearing may render a hand salute rather than placing their hand over their heart.

When Soldiers hear "The Army Song and Dog Face Soldier" Soldiers come to the position of attention and sing.

When at war Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen all come to attention when any military branch’s song is played.

Whenever and wherever the "National Anthem", "To the Colors", "Hail to the Chief", or "Reveille" are played, at the first note, all dismounted personnel in uniform and not in formation face the flag or the music (if the flag is not in view), stand at Attention and render a hand salute.

When not in uniform, personnel will, at the first note, stand at attention facing the flag or the music (if the flag is not in view), remove headdress, if any, with the right hand, and place the right hand over the heart.

Vehicles in motion will be brought to a halt. Persons riding in a passenger car or on a motorcycle will dismount and salute. Occupants of other types of military vehicles and buses remain seated at attention in the vehicle, the individual in charge of each vehicle dismounting and rendering the hand salute. Tank and armored car
commanders salute from the vehicle.

Music is at the core of the United States Military. Music is in the hearts of every Marine, Soldier, Sailor, and Airman. Whatever perceptions one may have of the military please remember that.

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Comment by Brant English on August 25, 2009 at 8:13am
Between active duty and the National Guard I have over 26 years experience in Army bands, so I guess you can say I know a little bit about military music traditions. I just remembered a recent change to US Code, Title 4, Chatper 1, para 9, allows veterans and current military members not in uniform to render the hand salute when honoring the flag. So feel free to salute from now on.
Comment by Robert Disque on August 24, 2009 at 12:41pm
Thanks for that. I got that info from a friend who is in the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion. Must have lost a little in translation.
Comment by Brant English on August 24, 2009 at 8:11am
Just a minor correction: "Dog Face Soldier" is the official march of the 3rd Infantry Division and only soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division would stand at attention and sing when it is played. Each division has an official march that is usually played just before "The Army Song" at the end of a pass in review ceremony.

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