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If You’re Hearing Bugle Music in the Morning, You’re Not Crazy

by ARLnow.com November 30, 2010 at 9:35 am 6,743 49 Comments

If you’ve been waking up in the morning to the sound of bugler playing Reveille, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

We received the following tips this morning:

On the northeast side of the 27/244 (Washington blvd/Columbia pike) intersection, there is a bugle that plays. I don’t know whether it’s coming from the Arlington National Cemetery or from the baracks down by the Air Force memorial, but I think they upgraded their loudspeaker in the past month because when they play reveille at 6:30am, that baby is loud. The evening bugle calls are much more subdued


Hi – I live in Colonial Village on Wilson Blvd and for the past few days, since Thanksgiving, I have been awakened by loud bugle music at 6:30 am. It sounds like it is coming from the direction of Fort Myer. Any idea if this is a new thing? Will it continue? I’ve not heard it before and am wondering how the sound travels so far.

The wake-up call is indeed coming from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (a.k.a. Fort Myer), which just installed a new public address system.

Base spokesperson Sharon Walker says they’re aware of the problem and working to fix it.

“The commander has said ‘it’s too loud, turn it down,'” she said. “They’re trying to adjust it.”

Walker noted that in years prior residents may have noticed the music get louder as leaves — a natural sound dampener — fall from the trees. However, she said, the increase in volume this year is indeed the result of the new PA system and will be taken care of.

  • Andrew

    It’s not your imagination. I’ve lived in Ft. Myer Heights for 11 years — and I now hear the bugle calls more clearly now than ever before. “Taps” is nice at 11 p.m. But “Reveille” is another matter…


    FYI – Henderson Hall (a Marine Base) and Fort Myer (an Army Post) are not one-in-the-same. They are in-fact separate installations that just happen to sit right next to eachother.

    • Crystal_Mikey

      Not anymore…thanks to the latest BRAC, there are many more joint bases. Such as Joint base Bolling Anacostia right across the river from us.

      • NPGMBR

        Looks like you may be correct to an extent. I still think the installations are separate because they are not funded by the same sources i.e. the Marine Corps’ money comes from the Navy and the Army handles its own funding. I think the (joint) designation is more symbolic then physical but I was discharged from the Marines well over 10 years ago so I can’t be sure of anything going on the with base anymore.

        • Observer

          It is now called Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall. There is one commander for the entire Joint Base and he is an Army colonel.

          • KalashniKEV


            A lot has changed in 10 years. Everything is going purple now at the top.

  • NorthAdams

    I don’t live that close and you can hear them on crisp days.
    isn’t it fantastic!!

  • Courthouse Resident

    We live across Rt 50 near Courthouse Rd interchange. The bugle calls used to be louder and sometime in the last year they got really quiet. You would have to have the windows open to hear it. But you can tell a big difference now. I can pretty much sleep through Reveille these days. We enjoy hearing Taps at 11. We like to stop what we are doing while it plays.

    Fun fact not only do we get the bugle calls – we also get to enjoy the dogs barking from the Ft Myer K-9 facility across the street. Try waking up at 3am to a pack of barking dogs!

  • Courthouse Resident

    Also does anyone know if there is an associated “canon shot” with Reveille? I swear some mornings (when I’m actually up at that hour and outside with the dog) that I hear a canon shot in the middle of Reveille.

  • N. Troy St Resident

    So glad that I know what this is now! I thought I was going crazy on Monday morning.

  • Michael

    I live two blocks from Fort Myer on N. Bedford St. I’ve noticed I can hear the bugles more clearly but don’t really mind it. I think it’s unique to our area and reassures me that there is an entire military base close to me full of men and women who are there to protect me and my freedom.

    • Courthouse Resident

      I agree – it’s something I like to point out to guests that stay with us.

    • Greg

      I’ve lived in Penrose for almost 10 years and this is one of those little things that I love about the neighborhood. I actually think the volume level is just fine; it’s like an extra alarm clock!

      • S. Arl

        +1! I love hearing the bugle. Much nicer than ambulance sirens…

  • Kind of wish I lived closer – I think it would be much better than the alarm every morning πŸ™‚

  • Donaldson Run Resident

    I was surprised when it woke me up the other morning at 6:28AM. We live quite a distance away off Military Road.

  • Skeptical

    I used to live in earshot of the bugle calls at Arlington Hall, before it was converted to National Guard/State Department and still had a token presence of troops in training. I miss it. As Michael said, it was kind of reassuring — though another member of the household at the time like to sing this:

    I confess to a sentimental attachment. When I was a child, one of the family friends was the Army Band bugler who recorded bugle calls to be played on Army base PAs when an actual bugler wasn’t available.

  • YTK

    So…turn it down– don’t turn this into a major investigation with a panel of experts. Find the volume control knob and twist it.

    • Justin Russo

      Exactly. β€œThey’re trying to adjust it.” How hard can it be?

  • Tiffany

    When I lived on that side of the Pentagon, I used to be able to hear Taps at 11 as far away as Virginia Square. Can only imagine how loud it is now that the volume has increased!

    • Andrew

      I’ve actually heard the bugles as far as Westover. It really carries over the hills!

  • Arlington, Northside

    Around the military air bases, the towns call the jet noise the Sound of Freedom, and they deal with it all day and night. I think that a twice a day occurrence so close to Arlington Cemetery where are military dead have rested since the Civil War and our Nation’s Capitol should be considered at most the Whisper of Freedom regardless of how loud the bugle plays!!

    • Crystal_Mikey

      Excellent way of looking at it!

    • Courthouse Resident

      Just to be accurate there are actually 4 bugle calls a day that they use at Ft Myer. 6:30am for Reveille, 5:00pm Mess Call, 10:00pm Retreat and 11:00pm Taps (unless they’ve since dropped the 5pm and 10pm calls) And this is only weekdays.

      • Andrew

        I think “Retreat” is still played. I’ve heard it at that hour in the past.

    • BrownFlipFlops

      Well put, Arlington, Northside.

    • GMo

      Indeed! My Aunt lives just up the road from PAX. I always marvel at the sounds of Navy Pilots training early in the A.M whenever I stay there.

  • Let’s Be Free

    When there’s no wind we can make out Taps and Reveille. It’s quaint and reassuring, kinda like the night time distant train whistles gave comfort when I lay in bed as a child.

  • KalashniKEV

    I noticed this when it started and wondered if I had missed it all along… I knew if it was new I would have read about it here!

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it and wish it was even louder!

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    In some cases you can hear the bugle calls far away is simple atmospherics. The way the cloud cover, humidity, ambient noise etc affects how sound travels. Sometimes I can hear the chimes from the clock in Westover as clear as day, and other times not at all. The distance of my house doesn’t change.

    As an aside I always liked the sound of taps at night from Ft. Myer. Sort of a solemn and nice way to close out the day.

    • GMo

      This is one of the many things I love about living in Westover. The Post Office chimes make me nostalgic of my grandfather, who was a clock enthusiast.

      I think the routine of hearing it daily brings us comfort. In an ever changing world there is still some things that are static.

    • Skeptical

      Some days I pick up the VRE train whistle. That’s a little bit of a mind bender.

  • UrsusMajeure

    About 10 years ago, I lived at the Wash. & Lee Apts. at Pershing Dr. & Rte. 50, just across the street from Fort Myer, and would periodically hear gun salutes coming from that direction. I don’t recall hearing Taps or Reveille, however.

  • Courthouse

    I agree with those who enjoy hearing the bugle calls. We live directly across Route 50 from Fort Myer and used to look forward to the calls every night at ten and eleven, and Reveille has been my alarm clock ever since we’ve lived there. We were so disappointed when we returned from vacation in mid-July and couldn’t hear the calls anymore because the volume had been turned down. The calls are now louder than they were before, but I see no problem with it whatsoever – I think it’s a unique and special aspect of where we live and thoroughly enjoy it.

  • G. Clifford Prout

    I love hearing them when I’m out with Puzzles the dog.

  • Greg

    I think we need to let Sharon Walker know that the community requests that they turn the volume up to 11.

    • GMo


      “It’s one louder!”

  • North Highlands

    So glad you wrote this! I really thought I was going crazy. I live on N. Scott St. in the Palisades Garden condos. I thought maybe it was coming from Fort Myer but couln’t believe the sound could travel that far (and with my windows closed). I had “We can’t get them up” the silly made-up lyrics in my head for days.

  • Love Bugle calls and Train Whistles!

    Years ago when we lived along the Pike we loved hearing Reveille in the morning. I’m not sure if we ever heard Taps. Personally, I heartily agree with those who like the sound. It is not just “reassuring” but also a much nicer reminder of the great work and sacrifices our military does for us, much nicer than the Ba-gillions (true fact) of Vietnam-era (in other words sans mufflers) helicopters that do tree top buzzes of our neighborhood while they wait to take some flag rank to a 15 minute meeting at the Pentagon. πŸ˜‰

    Oh, and on the sound carries “note” from our neighborhood along Rt 7 near Wakefield HS, we can often hear the train whistles at the King Street station when the cloud cover is low enough; frankly another great sound and better than the sound of I-395 (the buzzing drone of which I’ve tried, very hard, to convince myself to no avail is like the surf at the beach).

    • whistler’s self

      We’re in Lyon Park/Ashton Hts and I’ve thought the train whistle comes from E Falls Church–do you really think it’s King St.?

      • Hey_Ovie_Go_Long

        From Clarendon the train whistle sounds like it’s coming from the southeast, which would put it in the King St. area.

  • V Dizzle

    Holy crap that’s loud (Taps). Don’t think they’ve found the volume knob yet.

    • V Dizzle

      Let me add that I don’t mind it, but it’s definitely louder than it’s been my three years in Ft Myer Heights.

  • Courthound

    Ok, those taps were loud tonight. I’m not looking forward to the 6:30 wake-up call.

    • KalashniKEV

      Unfortunately not loud enough “to wake the dead” though…

      = (

      More bugle calls, less late risers please…

  • Michael

    I listened to Taps last night while standing outside my home. It was definitely much louder than I’ve ever heard it before. Still enjoy though, and I’m surprised the sound carries that far. Interesting to see the comments about the train whistle, I’ve heard for it a while and it was driving me crazy trying to figure where it was coming from.

  • Darwin

    I always thought it was funny that they play Reveille (French for “wake up”)
    at 0630 when everyone has already been up for a least an hour if not more on post. I guess it’s just tradition!

  • Arlingtonian

    Count me in as someone who loves that bugle music. I use it to tell time and to show off to friends who come visit. I was really disappointed when, over the past few months, it stopped being as easy to hear. I’m glad I can hear it again, but when they turn it down I hope I’ll still be able to hear it. It’s one of my favorite things about living in the Penrose area.

  • Sharon

    I grew up just down the street from the courthouse back in the 60’s and 70’s and the Ft. Myer cannon would go off everyday at 5pm. It was a great way for the neighborhood kids to know that dinner would be ready soon πŸ™‚


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