The sun may have set at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday, but for people living near Arlington National Cemetery, the day was definitely not done -- no matter what the song said.
From 11 p.m. Wednesday almost till dawn's early light at 5:45 a.m. yesterday, residents were serenaded with at least 405 continuous playings of taps broadcast over the hills and dales of nearby Rosslyn courtesy of a malfunctioning tape machine at the cemetery.
"I thought it was one hell of a funeral," said Bob Krasne, a resident of the Prospect House at 1200 N. Nash St.
"There's enough noise to wake the dead," complained a woman who was among several persons to call the news media and Arlington police when the traditional 11 p.m. bugle call signaling day's end didn't stop at 11:01 p.m. as it usually does every night.
"We would like to say we sincerely regret any aggravation the incident caused anyone," said Lt. Col. John Myers, a spokesman for the Military District of Washington, which oversees the cemetery and the Army's adjacent Fort Myer. "We can assure those people it will not happen again."
The snafu happened when a tape machine locked inside an office near the cemetery's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier "malfunctioned for some reason and played and played and played" over a loudspeaker perched on a roof, Myers said.
Sentries with the Fort Myer-based 3rd Infantry, which guards the tomb 24 hours a day, called the military district's duty office at Fort McNair when they couldn't get into the office to shut the machine off, Myers said.
"The bottom line is that the significance of the problem was not understood [at Fort McNair] and the appropriate action was not taken," said Myers.
Finally, at 5:45 a.m. the cemetery's superintendent arrived, and put an end to the music. Myers said the military district is taking steps to avoid a repetition of the incident but declined to give specifics for security reasons.
Nearby Arlington residents could be grateful for at least one thing: The cemetery doesn't play reveille.