Respect: Just a few steps away

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Every afternoon of the duty week, the entire expanse of Aviano Air Base is bathed in a delightful sound that customarily and simultaneously represents the end of the duty day and shows respect to the flags of Italy and the United States of America.

For many, this time is one of honorable reflection by either standing at attention with a crisp salute or with a hand placed over the heart. Often, entire families stand together quietly considering, in their own individual ways, thoughts of what the national anthems of our two great nations mean to them. Motorists stop their vehicles and remain still in their own reflective reverence until the brief patriotic experience fades across the northern Italian countryside.

Why would anyone knowingly choose to remain just inside a door, waiting for the sounding of Retreat and the playing of our host nation's national anthem along with our own, to fall silent before taking their first steps outside? I can't think of a more passive insult to the traditions of pride and honor represented by the brief instrumental songs played each afternoon at 4:45 p.m.

Just a few short steps through the door and you are in the midst of a sound representing two nations with rich histories. The anthems capture the many sacrifices each nation has endured along with reminding us of their past triumphs. Additionally, they serve to inspire the listener to consider that they are part of what the future of those anthems will represent. The whole experience is very therapeutic. A kind of musical thank you for the ages, exalting our lives of service and the many contributions our families make every day in support of our evolving nations.

Come on outside and give it a try. In the end, you might find the remainder of your day enriched in ways that can't be quantified. At the very least, you will have demonstrated respect, honor and pride in the two nations that Aviano Air Base represents. Your very actions may be the difference in another person hiding just inside the doorway or emerging as a participant in the unique daily musical tribute of Retreat.