Tattoos, But Not on Your Skin

Lastnight a friend and I went to the Twilight Tattoo given by the Third Infantry Division (the “Old Guard”) at Fort McNair in Southwest DC.  Fort McNair itself is nestled along the Potomac just south of the Waterfront Metro stop, and the parade ground in front of the old War College building provided a wonderful setting.  The weather was gorgeous, the soldiering was precise, and the crowd was enthusiastic.  There were lots of students from schools all over the country – we figured the loudest ones were those from Texas.  We learned that 2009 is the Army’s year of the NCO (who knew), “otherwise known as the backbone of the Army,” as the announcer made sure to tell us.  He took special care to introduce all the platoon sergeants taking part in the tattoo – most were Sergeants First Class.  Along with some hokey patriotic songs, we were treated to great demonstrations of skill and talent by the Army Drill Team, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and the Pershing’s Own Army Band.  But I think that my favorite part of the evening was at the end, when the soldiers were treated like rock stars by the visiting students on school trips.  They were walking up to rope lines and shaking the outstretched hands of nervous middle-schoolers, as if they were Madonna!  It was awesome and really got me in the mood for Fourth of July (which is my favorite day of the year to live in DC).


Since DC is in the middle of its own Military District, there are always lots of things to do and see if you’re interested in military affairs, or pageantry, at all.  There are several units which perform tattoos or sunset parades around town during the summer, and all of the armed forces’ vocal and instrumental groups give concerts all season long; mostly outdoors, and almost all free.  I’ve listed just a few choices below.  Check them out!

  • Twilight Tattoo – 3rd I.D., U.S. Army.  Fort McNair, 410 P Street, SW.  Wednesdays, 7 PM.  Free.  (Last tattoo is next Wednesday, July 1!)
  • Sunsets with a Soundtrack – West Steps of the U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC.  Free.  Most Fridays at 8 PM.
  • U.S. NAVY Band – US Navy Memorial – 701 PENNSYLVANIA AVE., N.W. – TUESDAYS, JUNE 2 – AUGUST 25 AT 8 P.M. Free
  • U.S. Navy Band – U.S. CAPITOL (WEST SIDE) MONDAYS, JUNE 1 – AUGUST 31 AT 8 P.M. Free.
  • Air Force Summer Concert SeriesWednesday and Friday nights at 8 p.m., from June 3 through Aug. 28 at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. Free.
  • Marine Barracks Washington – Sunset Parade, Iwo Jima Memorial.  Tuesdays, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 2 June – 11 August 200.  Free.
  • And finally, the “President’s Own” Marine Band is playing tonight (June 25) at the Sylvan Theatre (Washington Monument) at 8 PM.

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