Would you go out?

An Airman salutes the flag at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. If you’re at the door when the music for reveille or retreat begins, do you step out to salute? (U.S. Air Force photo/Brian Hagberg)

An Airman salutes the flag at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. If you’re at the door when the music for reveille or retreat begins, do you step out to salute? (U.S. Air Force photo/Brian Hagberg)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- I arrived at Schriever Air Force Base, my first duty station, as a young Airman First Class three years ago. One day, as I was leaving work, I noticed a large group gathered at the door while retreat was sounding. They were chatting amicably about their day or plans for the evening when I asked, "Is it disrespectful to walk out during retreat?"

A senior enlisted member replied, "No, it's disrespectful to hide in here," as she pushed past me and out the door. I was caught off-guard, but guiltily followed her out the door to render my salute to the colors. Since that day, I always, no matter the weather, walk out the doors and show my gratitude and respect to the flag. I have noticed during this time a number of people avoiding "getting caught" by reveille or retreat. These people typically fall into one of three categories: Runners, Groupies or Waiters.

Runners are the individuals who run, or walk quickly, through the parking lot to avoid the salute. I personally witnessed a woman run from her car to the side door of a building in order to make it in without having to wait for reveille.

Groupies are those who stand just inside the door, waiting for reveille or retreat to finish before walking out. Many times they will check their watch when they reach the door to make sure they have enough time to get to their vehicle before walking out.

Waiters are people who wait, either in their car or office, for reveille or retreat to finish before they head out.

The term, "monkey see, monkey do" comes to mind when I think of people trying to avoid saluting. People go to these lengths because they see others doing it and think that's just the way things are done. I always thought if more people would just go out and salute; it wouldn't be such a big deal. However, it was recently brought to my attention that some have been told by their leadership that it is disrespectful to interrupt the playing of reveille or retreat.

During my time here at Schriever, I've had a Master Sergeant tell me it's disrespectful not to go out, a Lieutenant Colonel give a briefing saying there is no regulation saying you need to stay indoors and to lead by example and go out and one Captain says there is a regulation that says not to go out while another Captain tell me it is disrespectful to interrupt.

So what's the right answer? I checked all the regulations I could find pertaining to proper protocol for reveille and retreat. This included Air Force Instruction 34-1201, Section 8.1.6.2 and Section 8.1.6.4 which gives the customs and courtesies toward our nation's flag, AFMAN 36-2203 which is the protocol for drills and ceremonies and United States Code Title 4 and Title 36 which detail the role of the flag and respecting the flag.

While these regulations provide instruction about what, and what not, to do during retreat and reveille in formation, while the flag is being raised or lowered and when you hear the National Anthem or "To the Colors" while indoors, none of them said whether or not to stay inside if you reach the door while retreat or reveille is playing.

Based on my research, it appears the choice of whether or not to push through the doors, and crowd of groupies, is personal. I can understand those who feel it is disrespectful to interrupt the playing of reveille or retreat; however, it's completely different, in my opinion, to wait at the doors or in a vehicle because you don't want to "get caught."

Personally, I plan to continue to walk out and salute the flag because it is so much more than just a flag. But what will you do? Will you be a runner, groupie or waiter, or will you push through the crowd? Ultimately, will you go out?