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Why families should know Military Traditions & Customs

Why is it important to understand the Traditions & Customs of the Military?

Customs and courtesies are key for a cohesive relationship in the armed forces. Furthermore, all of these beliefs have a set of values that cement the course of action that a service member takes in the course of his daily life.

  • Military traditions are important as they can bind loved ones or groups of people together. The military is built on traditions, customs, and manners, and as a result, its members share a common experience.

  • As a family member or friend of a service member, it can be valuable to learn about those traditions and customs your loved one participates in as a part of the military community.

  • Knowing the basics of common military traditions and customs can help you feel more comfortable visiting your service member on an installation or attending a military ceremony.

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#1 The customs of the military services are their common law.

These are a few:

  • Never criticize your service or your leaders in public.

  • Never go over the heads of superiors -- don't jump the chain of command.

  • Never offer excuses.

  • Never wear a superior's rank by saying something like, "The first sergeant wants this done now" when in fact, the first sergeant said no such thing. Speak with your own voice.

  • Never turn and walk away to avoid giving the hand salute.

  • Never run indoors or pretend you don't hear (while driving, for example) to avoid participating in reveille or retreat (raising or lowering of the U.S. flag).

  • Never appear in uniform while under the influence of alcohol.

  • If you don't know the answer to a superior's question, you will never go wrong with the response, "I don't know, sir (or ma'am), but I'll find out."

#2 - The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag

The military has a strong tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, particularly during formal ceremonies and events. Service members are expected to recite the pledge as a demonstration of their loyalty to the nation and its values. The pledge is often recited during military graduations, change of command ceremonies, and other formal events.

The military also has a tradition of teaching the pledge to new recruits and military cadets as a way of instilling a sense of patriotism and national pride. Many military training programs include instruction on the history and meaning of the pledge as part of their curriculum.

The Pledge of Allegiance also holds a special significance for military families, as it serves as a reminder of the sacrifices that their loved ones have made to protect the nation's freedom and democracy.

#3 - The national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner"

The national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is an important symbol of patriotism and national pride for the military. The anthem, which was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, celebrates the American spirit and the nation's determination to defend its freedom and independence.

The lyrics of the anthem tell the story of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, when American soldiers successfully defended Fort McHenry against a British attack. The sight of the American flag still flying at the end of the battle inspired Key to write the anthem.