By George Markfelder, Military District of Washington public affairs officeMay 10, 2012
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 10, 2012) -- More than a thousand visitors to Joint Base Myer, Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va., walked, bused, drove and taxied during some nasty weather May 9, to watch the time-honored tradition of a "Twilight Tattoo."
The event was hosted Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III. The event is normally performed outdoors, but due to bad weather in the nation's capital region, it was moved indoors. Approximately 60 Wounded Warriors also attended as honored guests of Austin, who became the 33rd vice chief of staff in January.
Under the evening sky or inside, the show is a blend of precision and discipline of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) with the orchestral sounds of the U.S. Army Band, also known as "Pershing's Own." This free and open-to-the-public performance is scheduled to entertain thousands more each Wednesday night at JBMHH during the summer, until the end of August.
The history of Twilight Tattoo began more than 300 years ago as British troops were summoned from the warmth and hospitality of local pubs by a bugle and drum call to return to the barracks. The familiar tune told tavern owners "doe den tap toe," or "time to turn off the taps." The troops knew the call to mean "taps off," and minutes later they were back in their tents.
The modern-day call is known as "Tattoo" and during basic training the call signals the time to quiet down and hit the bunks. Within the Military District of Washington, the call serves as a tribute dedicated to the vitality of the nation and to the sacrifices of those who forged America into the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is for America's forefathers and fellow Americans that MDW proudly presents Twilight Tattoo.
The MDW Twilight Tattoo can trace its own history back to the years before World War II. Then, on the grounds of Fort Myer, in Arlington, Va., the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, held military shows during the winter months. The Military District of Washington revived the traditional show in 1961 to showcase the talents of its ceremonial units.
As Twilight Tattoo grew in popularity, the Army adapted the show, its location and the time of year it was performed to fit the growing needs of the American people. Settling on performances in the nation's capital throughout the summer months, has allowed thousands of audience members to experience the ceremony and pageantry of the United States Army.