The retreat ceremony has two main functions. It signals the end of the duty day and serves as a ceremony for paying respect to the flag. When members not in formation are outdoors and in uniform they must face the flag (if visible) and /or music and stand at parade rest.
When viable, the members lowering the flag should be an NCO and three junior members. The detail is formed up and marched to the front of the flagstaff where the halyards are removed and given to each member lowering the flag. On the first note of the national anthem, the members of the detail not lowering the flag present arms. The members lowering the flag begin in accordance with the playing of the national anthem. The NCO commands the detail Order, ARMS when the flag is low enough to be received. When at half staff, the flag is then raised to the staff head before the lowering of the flag begins. The flag is then removed from the halyards and folded. The halyards are then secured back to the staff.