Patriotism is highlight at Army Twilight Tattoo

July 23, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

A torrent of patriotism was unleashed yesterday evening at Fort Meade as precision drill teams performed intricate routines and other troops marched and sang in a showcase of Army talent.

At least 2,000 spectators flocked to McGlachlin Field to watch the hour of entertainment, called a Twilight Tattoo, provided by the 3rd United States Infantry and the United States Army Band.

The program featured patriotic songs such as "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "America the Beautiful," marching soldiers twirling rifles and a tribute to soldiers who fought in every war from the Revolution to the Persian Gulf.

"We've been asking for a Tattoo for years," said retired Army Col. Gorham L. Black, who was Fort Meade's garrison commander from 1988 to 1990. He now works for Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall.

Mr. Black called the ceremony a "show and tell" of Army talent that symbolizes "how we protect our country. . . . It's amazing."

Last night's Tattoo was a tribute and ceremony welcoming Fort Meade's new command, the Military District of Washington, headquartered at Fort McNair in the nation's capital.

Also, the post got a new garrison commander when Col. Robert G. Morris III replaced Col. Kent D. Menser, who retired.

The tradition of the Twilight Tattoo began more than 300 years ago when British troops were summoned from local pubs by a bugle and drum call to return to barracks. The familiar tune told tavern owners it was time to turn off the taps, which came to mean "taps off."

Today's call is known as "tattoo" and for boot camp trainees it signals lights out.

Kicking off the event were members of the United States Army Chorale, who sang patriotic songs, ending with Neil Diamond's "Coming to America."

Then, the United States Army Drill Team demonstrated the art of marching and twirling their 1903 Springfield rifles.

OC The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, dressed in full 18th century

garb, "brought to life the sights and sounds of our continuous heritage," said the master of ceremonies, Pfc. Jeffrey T. Stevenson of the 3rd United States Infantry.

Topping off the evening was Sgt. Thomas McKenzie singing "We Were There" as small groups of troops lined the field, dressed in uniforms representing every war in which the U.S. fought.

"Reflect upon the history of our nation as seen through the eyes of the American soldier," Sergeant McKenzie told the audience.

Retired Army Col. Charles Rothstein, of Millersville, brought his friend Earl Zellers of Linthicum. "I want Earl to see the life that I lived," Mr. Rothstein said.

Master Sgt. Travis Riddick, who works and lives at Fort Meade, brought his wife, Cynthia, and 9-year-old daughter, Monique, to the show. Armed with a video camera, he said he never tires of the ceremony. "I enjoy this type of thing," he said. "I enjoy watching them march."

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