Beginning June 14, the familiar bugle calls at Fort Detrick will be joined by a special percussion instrument: a cannon.
A single cannon shot will be fired on the first note of “Reveille,” which signals the start of each day and is accompanied by the raising of the American flag. “Reveille” sounds at 6:30 a.m. At 5 p.m., Fort Detrick plays “Retreat,” which alerts the post that the flag is about to be lowered. The cannon will fire on the last note of “Retreat.” After a five-second pause, “To the Color” plays as the flag is lowered.
June 14 is the Army’s birthday, the day in 1775 when the Second Continental Congress formed the Continental Army, to coordinate the fighting forces of the 13 colonies.
Bugle calls are short tunes that announce events on army installations. Bugles are the traditional instrument of choice because their sound can carry over a large area, such as a battlefield, and relay a commander’s orders concerning troop movements and the firing of weapons, among other instructions.
There are 25 scheduled calls recognized by the army, including mail call, meal call, sick call, and call to quarters (you can listen to them all here). On most installations today, the only bugle calls played are at the beginning and end of the day.
While on the post, Fort Detrick officials say service members and civilians should pause to observe the two ceremonies. Facing the flag (or the direction of the bugle call), service members should salute, and civilians should place their right hands over their hearts. Drivers should safely pull over and exit their vehicles.
Although the NCI at Frederick campus is not part of Fort Detrick, Craig Reynolds, Ph.D., the director of its Office of Scientific Operations, suggests that observing the flag-raising and flag-lowering ceremonies while on the NCI campus is the best course. “It’s not just about being a good neighbor,” Reynolds said. “We all proudly serve and respect our country.”