What Time is Taps Played on Military Bases? (Answered)

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

what time is taps played on military bases

Have you ever encountered the term “taps” or heard its melody somewhere? If you have not already known, Taps is played in the military for important reasons.

Taps, commonly referred to as the bugle call, has a significant role in military tradition, especially in the United States. It is traditionally performed during military funerals and honors the loss of fallen troops.

It is also played daily on military bases. So, you might be curious: “What time is Taps played on military bases?” The answer is at 10 P.M. or 22:00 military time.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance and history of taps and discuss the time of day it is played on military bases.


History and Origin of Taps

Taps, the military tune played by U.S. soldiers, originated during the Civil War. After its creation by U.S. General Daniel Butterfield in 1862, “Taps” was initially performed at a military burial.

Since then, the Army has used this song to honor the sacrifices of its soldiers. Then it became standard practice in the armed forces and quickly rose in recognition.

The 2013 Defense Authorization Act by Congress mentioned that “Taps” is the official “Song of Remembrance” of the United States.

Significance Of Taps On Military Bases

What is “Taps”? The military uses short, 24 notes called “Taps,” one trumpet or bugle plays it to signify the start of certain events.

Butterfield’s bugle call began with three drum beats, which were variously known as the “Drum Taps,” “The Taps,” and eventually just “Taps.”

Differences In Taps Playing Times

1. Based on a branch of service, location


  1. S. Air Force regulation: Taps are played at many Air Force bases means lights are out without following any specific rules.
  2. S. Marine Corps: Taps plays at 22:00. It means that the workday has come to an end. Nearly all military bases, including MCLB Barstow, play special music four times a day.
  3. Both bugle and band compositions can be listened to on the S. Marine Corps Ceremonial Music website.

2. Special occasions

Here are other times when Taps is played at:

1. At Military Schools

Silver Taps, or Echo Taps, is played at a few U.S. military schools. It is played in the event of the death of a member of the school’s corps of cadets.

Among the list of military schools that plays Taps are:

  1. The Citadel
  2. Norwich University
  3. Virginia Tech
  4. Texas A&M University
  5. New Mexico Military Institute

2. At Arlington National Cemetery


Taps is played annually at military wreath-laying ceremonies, such as in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetry in Washington, D.C.

3. At Camps for Boys Scouts, Girls Scouts, and Guides

Taps are sounded by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Girl Guides to signal the end of the day or an evening activity like a campfire. Taps also means that it’s time to go to bed.

4. In Military Funerals


The Army Regulation 600-25 states that the tune “Taps” can be played at military funerals.

Soldiers should salute, and citizens need to take off their hats and put their hands over their hearts. It symbolizes remembering the soldiers who lost their lives in serving the military.

5. During Nighttime

In non-deployment military bases, Taps is also sounded at night as a lights-out call at around 22:00.

There are no formal or official procedures when a Taps is used this way.

Standard Protocol For Playing Taps


  1. Everyone should stand at attention for taps, whether a militarian or a civilian. For civilians, they can put their hands over their hearts, but they are not obliged to.
  2. Turn towards the flag or where the music is playing from.
  3. Keep quiet throughout the time taps are being played.

Other Tunes Sounded of the Day at the Military Base


Besides taps, the U.S. military bases also play two other tunes every day. These tunes are reveille and retreated. The playing of reveille and retreat times are usually at 07:00 and 17:00.

Everyone outdoors during the playing of Reveille and Retreat is expected to stop all the activities and face the flag. Military members are obligated to salute the flag or the source of the music.

Let’s discuss Reveille and Retreat in military bases.

  1. Reveille played on the military base at 06:00 or 07:00. The bugle call, “To the Colors,” follows.
    • Soldiers will assume a parade rest position with their backs to the flag during the first note of the Reveille. However, if the flag is not in sight, military members should face the sound source.
    • Then at the first note of “To the Colors,” a salute is kept throughout the last note.
  1. Retreat or evening colors time is around 1700. Typically, it is performed after the National Anthem to represent the end of service.
    • All uniformed military members face the flag and take their parade rest following the first note.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you salute during taps at night?

Yes. Whether day or night, military members always salute. They should all rise and salute from the first note to the last.

Can Taps be played at any time of day?

It depends. For the U.S. military, it is played during the morning or evening. It usually symbolizes the start and end of their day.

For civilians, they can play it during funerals any time of the day.


Now you must know what time is taps played on military bases, the origins of taps, and their importance for the U.S. military culture.

Taps is more than a bugle call on military bases; it has deeper meanings and significance. It is a solemn remembrance of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who have served their nation.

Moreover, it also played for other events such as funerals, school ceremonies, camps, and more.

In the end, while Taps is played in military members’ honor, let us commemorate those brave soldiers who have given their lives for our country.

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