By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor, Edge
There’s just something about the sound of the fife and drum that stirs something deep within the soul.
Not to be confused with the ink you get after graduating basic training, the idea of the military tattoo dates to the 1600s during the Thirty Years’ War in Belgium and the Netherlands. It was originally a form of military music, but the practice has transformed into more elaborate shows involving theatrics and musical performances.
It was during the Thirty Years’ War that drummers from the Dutch garrison were sent out into the towns at 9:30 pm each night to inform soldiers that it was time to return to the barracks. This was known as doe den tap toe (Dutch for “turn off the tap”) and was an instruction to barkeeps to stop serving beer and send the soldiers home for the night. It is from the phrase “doe den tap toe” that “tattoo” has evolved.
Today, the military tattoo has spread beyond Europe to North America, Asia, and Africa with dozens of nations taking up the musical tradition.
It is in just that tradition that a group of U.S. military members, veterans, and civilians have organized the inaugural Washington Tattoo Gala, which is taking place on April 4th, 2022, at The Winery at Bull Run near Manassas Battlefield in Virginia.
I recently had the good fortune to speak to the Washington Tattoo’s Chief Strategy Officer and graduate of American Military University, Edward Krzysik (pronounced Kry-zik).
Ed is a U.S. Army Veteran having served with the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps. He is also an alumni of the 1st Michigan Colonial Fife & Drum Corps and the St. Andrews Pipe Band. As a self-described fan of Colonial America, Ed also is a part-owner of Alewerks Brewing Company in Williamsburg, Virginia.
When asked how the Washington tattoo helps veterans, Ed said that “We have a far-reaching mission to help veterans, not just by raising awareness of critical issues in the veteran community, but with tangible outreach like music scholarship programs, training, and donating instruments to underserved communities.”
In fact, to help raise funds for these important causes, the Gala is featuring an auction with some incredible items: Among them are a guitar signed by Bruce Springsteen, a Star Wars helmet signed by 16 cast members (including Mark Hamill and George Lucas), an Official NASA photo of Apollo 11 with astronaut signatures, and a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland with distillery tours, among many other items!
Ultimately, Ed emphasized that the U.S. is home to a tremendous array of nationalities, customs, and traditions. The Washington Tattoo was designed to celebrate the diversity of American culture through musical performance and dance. After all, it is our diversity from which our nation draws its strength. The many different backgrounds and ethnicities that make up this great nation gives us a wealth of different experiences to tap into when meeting our country’s challenges. You could say that ‘diversity’ is an American tradition.
The Washington Tattoo is a reflection of that strength, and the 2022 inaugural gala is a time to celebrate that tradition.
The Washington Tattoo is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and thrives on donations to keep providing the high-level of production required to pull off such an amazing event. If you want to support their volunteers, performing artists, and event expenses, Ed encourages people to reach out at email@example.com or to him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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