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Carson Cuts the Cannon

We’ve lived in this house since March, 2004, and one night in July 2004 we were startled to hear someone playing Taps at 10:00 PM. The next morning, Mr. Insomnia here heard First Call at 5:55, and then Reveille at 6:00 AM sharp. During the playing of Reveille, a cannon sounded.

This was almost unbelievably cool, and whether our hearing it is an accident of geography is hard to tell. Our house is about one and a half linear miles from the main gate to Fort Carson, one of the largest Army bases in the country, home to about 10,000 military personnel, two handsome maroon-and-yellow Diesel locomotives, a highly regarded golf course, and probably a lot of other things that aren’t talked about in the daily paper. We are up the slopes of Cheyenne Mountain from Fort Carson, and it may be that sound just travels well from the main complex near Gate 1 to our location. (We can look down on the Fort from our back decks, and watch their impressive fireworks displays on the Fourth of July.) There are people living a whole lot closer to Gate 1 than we are, and I’ve often wondered how loud the bugle calls are right across Highway 115 from the Fort. It would be an easy experiment to make–just run down the hill to Danceglen Drive a little before 5–but I confess I’ve never had the presence of mind to try it.

We’ve been hearing the amplified bugle calls and the accompanying cannon ever since then. About a year ago, First Call was pushed up to 6:25, and the cannon sounded with Reveille at 6:30. Alas, some time last week, the cannon ceased to sound, both at 6:30 and at 5:00 PM, after Retreat and during To the Colors. There’s a bugle call at noon, but it isn’t Mess Call and I don’t recognize it from my Boy Scout days. Futhermore, it has never been accompanied by a cannon, so I tend to hear it less often, especially if I’m in the middle of something intense at noon.

I miss the cannon. Carol and I generally get up at 6:30, and the cannon was a convenient goad to stop cuddling and get on with the day’s imperatives. I still listen for Taps at 10 PM, often going out on the back deck to lean on the railing in the dark, and it’s a very spooky thing sometimes, especially when the just-past-full Moon is rising above the Colorado plains to the east. Doubtless someone with an exaggerated sense of personal importance complained, forgetting or not caring that Fort Carson was here decades before anybody lived anywhere near it. I hope they bring it back someday. It’s a useful reminder that somebody’s keeping an eye on things in our difficult world, and that matters a great deal to me.


  1. Kevin says:

    My dad was stationed at Fort Carson. He was in the group just behind Elvis. He then shipped over to Germany, again just after Elvis. I was born over there.

    I visited Fort Carson for the first time in August of 1977. They sold Elvis key chains there. I was camped out near the base listening to the radio when a breaking news bulletin reported that Elvis had just died…

    On a less strange note, I was just visiting the AF Academy with my son a couple weeks ago. I was going to look you up, but we were in and out too fast to allow it. Sorry about that.

    1. No problem. If you get into town again, do give a shout. I hope to not be in Chicago as much as I was earlier this year.

  2. […] an unexplained absence of several weeks, Fort Carson’s cannon is back. (See my entry for September 15, 2009.) Maybe the cannon was broke and they had to send it back to the factory for […]

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