Support our mission
At the Twilight Tattoo at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment performs for the audience to open up the show.

At the Twilight Tattoo at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment performs for the audience to open up the show. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

At the Twilight Tattoo at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment performs for the audience to open up the show.

At the Twilight Tattoo at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment performs for the audience to open up the show. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the Old Guard dressed in Revolutionary War-style uniforms open up the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the Old Guard dressed in Revolutionary War-style uniforms open up the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Ryan McCarthy, the under secretary of the Army, stands for the national anthem at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Ryan McCarthy, the under secretary of the Army, stands for the national anthem at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. ()

A member of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps plays a patriotic tune in a Revolutionary War-style uniform during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

A member of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps plays a patriotic tune in a Revolutionary War-style uniform during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps play a patriotic tune in Revolutionary War-style uniforms during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps play a patriotic tune in Revolutionary War-style uniforms during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps play a patriotic tune in Revolutionary War-style uniforms during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps play a patriotic tune in Revolutionary War-style uniforms during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. ()

Dressed as a Union soldier, a violinist plays a traditional Civil War song during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlignton, Virginia.

Dressed as a Union soldier, a violinist plays a traditional Civil War song during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlignton, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Dressed as soldiers from World War I, members of the Old Guard run on stage during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Dressed as soldiers from World War I, members of the Old Guard run on stage during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

In a World War II scene, a member of the Old Guard reads a letter from then-General Dwight Eisenhower during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

In a World War II scene, a member of the Old Guard reads a letter from then-General Dwight Eisenhower during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble play at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble play at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the Old Guard freeze in the same positions as the statues at the Korean War Veterans Memorial during a performance at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the Old Guard freeze in the same positions as the statues at the Korean War Veterans Memorial during a performance at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

A member of the Old Guard reenacts a moment from the Korean War during a performance at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

A member of the Old Guard reenacts a moment from the Korean War during a performance at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team perform a highly-regimented drill during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team perform a highly-regimented drill during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team perform a highly-regimented drill during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team perform a highly-regimented drill during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team perform a highly-regimented drill during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team perform a highly-regimented drill during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team perform a highly-regimented drill during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team perform a highly-regimented drill during the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

At the end of the performance, members of the Old Guard walked onto the stage in uniforms from 1980 until today at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

At the end of the performance, members of the Old Guard walked onto the stage in uniforms from 1980 until today at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

At the end of the performance, members of the Old Guard walked onto the stage in uniforms from 1980 until today at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

At the end of the performance, members of the Old Guard walked onto the stage in uniforms from 1980 until today at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

At the end of the performance, members of the Old Guard walked onto the stage in uniforms from 1980 until today at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

At the end of the performance, members of the Old Guard walked onto the stage in uniforms from 1980 until today at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

At the end of the performance, members of the Old Guard walked onto the stage in uniforms from 1980 until today at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

At the end of the performance, members of the Old Guard walked onto the stage in uniforms from 1980 until today at the Twilight Tattoo on June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia. (Emma Swislow/Stars and Stripes)

On many Wednesday and Thursday nights through July, the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment — "The Old Guard" — hosts the Twilight Tattoo, a tradition that the Military District of Washington began in 1961.

During these ceremonial performances, soldiers reenact scenes from major American conflicts from the Revolutionary War to today.

On June 19 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Va., Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy hosted a tattoo, standing in front of the audience as a soldier sang the national anthem to begin the event.

Military pageantry was on full display at the evening performance, which was held indoors due to the threat of thunderstorms. Members of the Old Guard and the U.S. Army Band — “Pershing’s Own” — wore historically-accurate uniforms, performed traditional military songs, and acted out scenes and speeches from the various eras.

The audience, made up of mostly school groups, watched as Union soldiers gathered around a campfire during the Civil War. During a World War II segment, a soldier read a letter from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower that encouraged troops to keep their heads up. The Vietnam War portion saw soldiers crawl on their stomachs as they attempted to advance closer to the front line. Later on, the U.S. Army Drill Team performed a highly-regimented ceremonial drill.

The term “tattoo” comes from the Dutch phrase “doe den tap toe,” which translates into English as “time to turn off the taps.” When it was time for soldiers to leave the pubs and return to their barracks, a drum and bugle would play a tune to signal to the owners of the pub that they had to turn their taps off and stop serving the soldiers. This phrase can be traced back to the 17th century, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

The next Twilight Tattoo is scheduled for June 26 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; see more information at the base's web site.

swislow.emma@stripes.com


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up