Donald Trump sat and laughed with Fox News host Sean Hannity as the “Retreat” bugle call was played. Tradition dictates that members of the military and civilian leadership stand at attention to respect the U.S. flag during the solemn ceremony.
Trump’s act of disrespect occurred during an interview that happened in a hangar at the Air National Guard base in Pennsylvania.
While military protocol does not require standing during the Retreat ceremony for those who are indoors, the hangar was open to the outdoors on one side, and Trump appeared entirely ignorant of the military tradition.
Trump referred to the bugle call as a “nice sound,” and asked Hannity if they were playing it “in honor of his ratings.”
As the official Army website notes, playing “Retreat” is “one of the oldest traditions in the U.S. Army, which dates back to the Revolutionary War.” Playing the song is used “to signal the end of the duty day and pay respect to the nation’s flag.”
Trump disrespected the flag the same evening he returned to the subject of black NFL players protesting police brutality by kneeling during the anthem. He told Hannity, “You cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that.”
Trump did it.
TRUMP: What a nice sound that is. Are they playing that for you or for me? They’re playing that in honor of his ratings. Did you see how good his ratings are? He’s beating everybody.
HANNITY: I think they’ll be higher tonight. I’m just guessing.
As “Retreat” is played, the Army website explains, “Once the bugle sounds, all personnel driving on the installation should stop. Service members and government civilian personnel are encouraged to turn off their vehicles, and, if safe to do so, exit to render the appropriate honors.”
Trump is by virtue of his position, the highest-ranking official in the U.S. military and is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces.
In 2014, a soldier hid in her car to avoid saluting the flag during the ceremony, and after posting a photo of her actions on social media, was disciplined by the military.
The late comedian Robin Williams, while performing for soldiers in Kuwait, stopped in the middle of his comedy routine to stand at attention and honor the flag during the “Retreat” ceremony.
Trump’s actions showed once again, that when it comes to truly honoring the flag and doing his duty as commander in chief, it’s all a big joke.
[Editor’s note: This article was updated to clarify that military protocol does not require those who are indoors to stand during the Retreat ceremony, but that the hangar was open to the outdoors on one side, and that Trump appeared entirely ignorant of the tradition.]