It’s safe to say that a military recruit will be jolted awake within 24 hours of when he or she raised their right hand to take the enlistment oath.

It’s also safe to say that reveille may be the most hated sound among military people. It never comes anytime than really early, and it definitely doesn’t come quietly. There’s no such thing as sleeping through it because at the same moment as it sounds, every light in the barracks is also turned on. And it’s not unheard of for the company commander or a deputized watchstander to add to the cacophony by crashing trash can lids together. Talk about a rough way to start the day!

I report this from firsthand experience, still a strong memory 40+ years later.

Travel delays made for a very late middle-of-the-night arrival to bootcamp and lost luggage meant borrowing pajamas from another recruit, but I finally was able to get to bed around 3 a.m. on the morning of our company’s first full day in bootcamp. It seemed I had barely closed my eyes when REVEILLE (yikes!) sounded.

I woke up—how could I avoid it?—but I had absolutely no idea what was going on! In fact, it took a moment or two for me to even remember where I was. Realization was quickly overcome by the reality of my new situation. I had a new boss—several actually—and nothing in my growing up years came close to preparing me for my first reveille, never mind the rigors of ten weeks of bootcamp!

Bootcamp is as challenging as it is transformative. I’m not going to attempt to describe bootcamp—anyone who’s been has their own particular memories and stories to tell—and anyone who hasn’t been has probably heard enough stories to be glad that’s one experience they missed.

My bootcamp experience notwithstanding, I have always been a morning person. What has changed over time is how I choose to wake up—reveille is NOT, in my opinion, a good way to start the day. Still, I do need something to rouse me from sleep. It’s taken some experimentation, but I’ve finally settled on a method that works for me.

I want to wake up to something I know. Using the radio is not a good solution because it’s impossible to know what even a favored radio station might play at any given moment. I don’t want to be startled awake so I avoid alarms. The only feasible solution for me then is to rely on recorded music. Even that presents a challenge because the selected music has to meet several important criteria: first, it has to start softly and gradually get loud enough to wake me from a sound sleep; second, it has to be a tune I enjoy enough that I won’t tire of it too quickly; and third, since the clock radio is on my (retired) husband’s side of the bed, it has to be something he can at least tolerate for the 30 seconds or so it usually plays before he turns it off.

So, in the spirit of this week’s DPChallenge, I’m sharing my current wake-up call with you as a kinder, gentler alternative to military reveille. This tune has stood the test of time, as I’ve used it on a 5-days-per-week basis for the last two years or so. With best wishes for your own wake-up routine, I hope you will enjoy this recording of Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer by Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes.


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14 thoughts on “Reveille!

  1. Nice post!! I need either the Reveille or a bomb going off under my bed – otherwise I SLEEP! I have three alarms set in various bedrooms everyday, hoping that ONE of us will respond in the morning!! =)

    But I DO like the song you’ve chosen and am glad you now have the opportunity to wake up in a pleasant manner! 🙂

  2. Wanda, you managed to capture a sound and turn it into an imagine. What a wonderful post. Like so many of comments above your post brought back in force my experience arriving in San Diego for bootcamp and that very 1st moment of real Navy when reveille sounded only minutes after being allowed to get into the rack. Thank you, I think for stirring those memories. — Bill

  3. I need the best excuse in the world to end up taking a bootcamp session. It is one of those activities that I’ve been planning on doing but when I think deeply I tell myself, why do I need to kill myself for 20/30 days? Maybe after that I’ll probably end up having Pizza hut for dinner every single hahahaha.

    Could you please advice me or maybe motivate me in anyway possible to pump me up for bootcamp.


  4. When I was in basic training in the British Army in 1964. No reveille. If you were not out of bed quick enough the shouting corporal would tip the bed upside down. One fine memory was one day the corporal was on other duties and we were left to fend for ourselves. We were all ready for morning parade on the huge parade ground except one man who was still fast asleep. Carefully we carried his bed with him in it down two flights of stairs and out into the centre of the parade ground. The RSM, all the sergeants and corporals, about 12 in all saw the funny side of the joke, they surrounded his bed and with the loudest voice imaginable the RSM shouted ” why are you asleep on my parade ground lad”. His worst nightmare had come true. The man was always first awake after that. !! Thanks Wanda for bringing back a memory. Take care. Ralph

  5. This is familiar territory to me.. Been through Army bootcamp not once but twice (break in service).. Still get up with the roosters…Much enjoyed this post!!

  6. I really admire anyone who has made it through boot camp – I think I would run screaming after the first hour.

    I tend to wake up before the alarm goes off. One of the very nicest things about retirement is the fact that alarms are no longer required.

  7. I was always confused about why “reveille” sounds so similar to the word “revelry.” They sure don’t seem related. In fact too much late night revelry will definitely hamper your reveille.

    • I never thought about the dis-connection between revelry and reveille before–and there certainly wasn’t much of the former in bootcamp. Mostly we were just glad to make it through the day!

    • I finished bootcamp in February 1970. Back then Navy women were still known as WAVES and I suspect our bootcamp was considerably less demanding than yours was!

      • I imagine your bootcamp was severe compared to anything the average civilian ever goes through. I didn’t have to carry a broad-sword and a shield while wearing 100 lbs of chainmail and armour, so I can’t complain. B ^ )

  8. Powerful memories indeed..some things you never forget! I have the very highest admiration for anyone who can complete a boot camp. Wow. Tough Stuff!

    We have a “daylight” clock which mimics the sun coming up gradually over half an hour. It seems to work pretty well – we’re usually coming to before the alarm itself sounds

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