A few weeks ago, I accepted an assignment from Bugles Across America to play taps for a WWII veteran. The requestor stated that his father had been buried several years ago but the electronic bugle failed so they never had taps played at his service. He said they wanted it played and he and his brothers were coming from around the country to get it done. I thought that was nice that they wanted to honor him with a proper rendition of taps.
Today I completed the assignment. It was about a 1 ½ hour drive, but I consider that worth it for a WWII vet. I arrived at the cemetery to find three men standing in the graveyard at their father’s grave. Dressed casually, they were all alone with no family. I wore a suit and tie for the occasion as I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
After I met them I looked at their father’s grave monument. It stated that he died in 1996 almost 22 years ago! They had been thinking about this for a long time, especially one of them. They all felt that they had failed their father without the honor of taps and were determined to have it played for him, even 22 years later. I realized once again the impact of taps at funerals. It provides closure as it signals the end of a life and it is the final honor families have for their loved one. It was important enough that they came a long way to get it done.
So, I played taps and the three of them stood with their hands on their hearts while I played. They had now finished their task of honoring their father as he deserved.
After I played one of them said that he figured his great-great-grandfather could hear it where he was buried a few yards away. I asked if he was WWI vet and they said no; the Civil War. Their grandfather was a few yards the other way and was a WWI vet. But they said taps had been played for them at their burials.
Thousand of people can play taps, so the player isn’t important. But taps is important in many ways to the families of the deceased. I felt privileged to do this for them.
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