Drums and bugles have long been used by the Army to direct troops in battle and signal events during the duty day. Drums fell out of favor in the 19th century, but bugle call traditions have persisted and can still be heard at most Army posts at least a few times per day.
On Fort Leavenworth, actual bugles have been replaced with recordings played over the Big Voice outdoor public address system. Only six of the 13 Big Voice towers play bugle calls, concentrating the calls in areas where soldiers are likely to be gathered for duty or training and away from most on-post housing. Those locations include the Army Corrections Complex, the Command and General Staff College parking lot, Gruber Fitness Center, Harney Sports Complex, Sherman Army Airfield and McClellan Avenue.
The first bugle call of the day is “Reveille,” which sounds at 6 a.m. for the traditional raising of the national colors. The national colors in front of the Lewis and Clark Center are illuminated and are not raised or lowered on a daily basis.
At 5 p.m., when the national colors are traditionally lowered, “Retreat” and “To the Colors” are played.
Weeknights at 9 p.m., “Taps” is played.
Service members were taught their first day in uniform what to do when these bugle calls sound. They face the flag — or toward the music if the flag is not visible — come to attention and render the hand salute for “Reveille” and “To the Colors.” Service members not in uniform, civilians and family members should face the flag or music, remove any headgear and hold their right hand over the heart until the last note ends. Veterans and service members in civilian clothes also have the option to render the hand salute.
Drivers hearing the calls should pull over and stop, exit their vehicle safely and render the suitable honors. Because of safety concerns, drivers on Fort Leavenworth’s Grant Avenue should stop and remain in their vehicles until the last note of the bugle call ends.
Bugle calls have sounded at Fort Leavenworth since the post was established in 1927. Those who work and live on the historic post are encouraged to continue to honor the national colors during the bugle calls in a safe, proper and respectful manner.