Twilight Tattoo History



“Twilight Tattoo” is a time-honored tradition that blends the precision and discipline of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) with the superb musicianship of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.”

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. For the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, the call serves as a tribute dedicated to the vitality of our nation and to the sacrifices of those who forged America into the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The U.S. Army’s Twilight Tattoo can trace its own history back to the years before World War II. At that time, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment held military shows during the winter months on the grounds of Fort Myer in Arlington, Va. The U.S. Army 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 U.S. Army Military District of Washington began to present the show on behalf of the U.S. Army as a whole. The command adapted the show to fit the growing needs of the American people and allows for thousands of audience members to experience the ceremony and pageantry of the United States Army.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Army Military District of Washington once again adapted the show for a virtual audience when unable to safely welcome the public in 2020 and 2021.

The U.S. Army will continue to follow DoD guidelines and CDC recommendations in order to ensure the safety of our Soldiers, Families, Department of the Army Civilians, Contractors, and our community, but hope to return to the traditional hour-long, live-action format of Twilight Tattoo at Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall in 2022.

2021 Web Series

  • May 5 - Revolutionary Beginnings: A Professional Army Emerges
  • May 12 -The Growth of America: The Army and Westward Expansion
  • May 19 -Entering the World Stage: World War I 
  • May 26 -The Army’s Fighting Spirit: World War II 
  • June 2 -Courage and Commitment: Korea
  • June 9 - Army Birthday Week Twilight Tattoo Livestream
  • June 16 - Modernization & Professionalism: Vietnam & Post-Vietnam
  • June 23 - Modern Warfare: Desert Storm/ 9/11 / Afghanistan & Iraq
  • June 30 - Today’s Army & The Future: Our People

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