The songs they play in Bremerton each day


At first, I naively thought I just had a staunchly patriotic neighbor, whose alarm clock would play the National Anthem each morning at 8 a.m. It was 2007 and we had just moved to Winfield Avenue in Manette. What I didn’t know was that music was coming across the Port Washington Narrows from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, which plays it each and every day.

And Bremerton residents know that isn’t the only song played for all the town to hear.

If you’re downtown, you hear the Carillon Bells from high atop the Chase Building, a tradition that dates back to the early 1970s (and even further when the bells were atop the Methodist Church on the same site).

But there’s also another tune we hear from the yard. Yes, the National Anthem is played each day at 8 a.m. But what you hear from the Yard as night falls is different.

Evening Colors,” also known as “Retreat,” “Day is Done” or “Tattoo,” is played year round as well but not at the same time, according to Shipyard Historian Cristy Gallardo.

“Everyday it’s sounded at the official sundown time, so it changes by a few minutes throughout the year,” Gallardo told me.

She points out the evening tune is not “Taps,” which now is mostly limited to military funerals and memorials.

As you might’ve guessed, the songs are programmed to play automatically through the Shipyard’s “Port Operations” post. It “doesn’t require human interaction at all,” she said. “It just does its thing.”

How far back this tradition goes is uncertain. Gallardo told me it’s been the practice at military installations since before the Civil War. She suspects that the Marines, who actually arrived before the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard opened in 1891, probably even started something given their devotion to tradition and propensity to carry a bugler.

There’s no plans to discontinue this time-honored practice, she added. Just think, if we were near an Army post, we might hear “Reveille” every morning instead.


9 thoughts on “The songs they play in Bremerton each day

  1. The bells in downtown Bremerton actually started when the Bremerton Methodist Church, installed bells in their belfry. They had occupied the 5th & Pacific corner from 1902 until they sold and their big brick building was demolished. I’ll try to find out the date of the first bell installation.

    1. Ms. Claudia,

      You are so right. What I meant there was that it’s been playing on the Chase Building since the 1970s.

  2. I live on the Port Orchard side of Sinclair Inlet and for ten years, have enjoyed this somewhat quirky aspect of my environment.
    However, I have to say that such strong songs are made cheap by the clearly recorded sound of the music.
    I have to think that their are military personnel with musical talent that could play live, be it the Star Spangled Banner or Evening Colors.
    Even if only for one week a month. Or a day. Or just bring in a bagpipe band and we’ll call it good! (kidding there folks…mostly kidding anyway!)

    1. There was a ship’s band back in the day of capital ships. But now the bands are usually from the type command’s PacNW is one.The recorded music, bugle and band just makes it more convenient however, during major command events there is a band present. Also a bugler is required during a funeral service.

  3. The playing of the National Anthem a change from the original at the shipyard. At 0755 hours, the Marines assigned to the State Street Gate would raise the prep flag. This was a flag raised to signal the coming of morning colors. At 0800 hours the prep flag was allowed to fly free and would fall to earth. At the same time, the Marines would raise the National colors. Our honeymoon apartment was at 103 State Street in l957-8 so we watched and heard it many times and it was great. There was no playing of the National Anthem, that came later. On other services I have been assigned to, the playing of the National Anthem was played but during evening colors, not in the morning. Morning colors was usually about sun up.

  4. We love the music and the fact that the sound quality changes depending on which way the wind is blowing and which side of the water we happen to be on when we hear it. Just another lovely gift we get every day just for living here!

  5. my grandparents lived on Wycoff/berwell st I also grew up there, I LOVE hearing colors in the morning and evening my grandpa a yard worker and 5 generations of Leightons have worked there and now because of blended families a generation of forshaws work there

  6. Love your stuff, Josh…. nearly everyone near southern part of Dyes Inlet hears evening Tattoo [I thought it was Taps], compliments of Naval Hospital. Very cool end of our day.

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