The melodious sound of taps
LVN Editor Emeritus
This short melody refined 157 years ago resonates to those familiar with military life.
At funerals conducted at military and civilian cemeteries, the sound of taps permeates the still air, thus giving a final closure on a serviceman’s or woman’s life.
Taps also signals the day’s end when lights-out prevails.
During 2019 at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, the Nevada Veterans Coalition has conducted approximately 300 military funerals including a monthly unaccompanied service and quarterly Missing in Nevada, a program which identifies the remains of hundreds of deceased veterans with no known kin.
For many families, hearing taps is the final salute to their loved one they hear.
Most recently, buglers played taps at the Wreaths Across America remembrance conducted at hundreds of cemeteries including 24 cemeteries in 10 countries that are the final resting place for American military personnel. Every year at the city of Fallon’s 9/11 ceremony, a bugler from the American Legion ceremonial team plays the haunting melody.
Bugles Across America has 4,000 buglers across the nation who are kept busy. Each year, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 1 million veterans die annually.
A lone bugler — sometimes two — plays this 24-note salute after a 3-volley salute and before the refolding of the United States flag either by NVC members or Nevada Army National Guard soldiers. A family member or friend then receives the flag, which is folded 13 times, before an honor guard escorts them to the deceased’s final resting place.
According to history.com, U.S. General Daniel Butterfield and his brigade spent a week recuperating after a major battle near Richmond, Va., in July 1862. Unhappy with the current bugle call that signaled the end of the day, the Union commander took the bugle call played by the Army and made it more melodious. The success led to taps being played by buglers at other Army camps and later it was played for the first time at a soldier’s funeral, a cannoneer killed in action.