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.