No other song will bring tears more quickly to an American’s eyes than TAPS. Although it is a simple tune, the haunting notes inspire awe and respect as a hero is laid to rest.
The first time I was called on to play TAPS at a military funeral was as an eleventh grade band student. I was happy to oblige as it meant an afternoon of missing class. My band director felt that I would do a decent job and if I remember correctly, I did okay. Mr. Zuercher also mentioned that I'd get extra credit-which I usually needed.
As an adult I received an occasional call to pay tribute to a fallen veteran. Sometimes years would pass before I'd pull out the tarnished trumpet and practice frantically. The twenty-one gun salute was my cue to belt out TAPS.
When my husband fell ill to the effects of Agent Orange from his time in Vietnam, the song took on much more significance. When my son came home from his Afghanistan and Iraq deployments deeply afflicted by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the song truly scared me. My husband and son lost their lives from service-connected afflictions. TAPS was played as I said good-bye to my favorite war heroes. There was an air of respect as the song rang over their final resting places.
It has been twelve years since my husband's death and three years since our beautiful son lost his battle. Overwhelming grief can fill some of my days. That grief takes a back seat when I'm called on to play TAPS for a war heroes' final salute.
Each note honors my son and husband as well as their fallen brother or sister. I’m pretty sure they'd be proud.