President Donald Trump raged against NFL players who chose to take a knee during the national anthem, but on Wednesday, Trump joked about a time-honored tradition of the armed forces that is meant to show respect for the American flag.
During Trump’s interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, which was conducted in an airplane hangar used by the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in Harrisburg, a bugle call rang out.
"What a nice sound that is. Are they playing that for you or for me?" Trump said before turning to the audience. "They're playing that in honor of his ratings," he joked, referring to Hannity's news program.
Trump continued to talk about economic growth as some of the audience members stood. The bugle call was “Retreat,” which is played during the lowering of the American flag on a military base. Trump attended a military high school, but seemed unaware of the music’s meaning as he continued to talk.
New members of the armed forces are taught customs and courtesies, including how to respect the Stars and Stripes. Service members are required to stand at attention and salute when they are outside and "Retreat" plays.
Most military bases have loudspeakers to play "To The Color" when the flag is raised in the morning and "Retreat" when it is lowered in the evening. Even if the service member isn’t within eyesight of the flag, he or she stops and facing the direction of the music. No talking. All outdoor activity halts on the military installation. If a service member is driving a vehicle, he or she will pull over.
According to military protocol guides, during "To The Color" and "Retreat" military members and civilians should act the way they would during the national anthem.
"Being in the hangar, they didn't have to do anything special," Master Sgt. Matt Schwartz, a spokesman for the 193rd Special Operations Wing in Harrisburg, told The Washington Post. For their purposes, the hangar was indoors enough.