I cannot tell you how many hundreds of times that I have played the solemn 24 notes of Taps. From the time as a young Boy Scout where I was proud to earn my merit badge as a bugler, and time to time as a Member of the USAF Drum and Bugle Corps. I was called upon to play Taps for a departed veteran being buried nearby where I was stationed.

There have been other occasions to numerous to mention where I played for various patriotic  occasions, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the like. What I do remember quite vividly is how it made me feel as an American to have the honor to be able to play at each of these solemn occasions.

Taps represents a rite of passage for our veterans who have answered their final roll call. Family members remember with a great deal of pride how their departed loved ones felt about the time that they had spent wearing the uniform of the various branches of the military and how proud they were to have served our country, whether it was for a brief period of time or a career in the armed forces.

To all of us Taps represents the final salute, and a symbol of gratitude for a “job well done. It also represents a moment of closure for the loved ones and helps them release a great deal of pent up emotion at the loss of their husband, wife, son or daughter.

Having witnessed so many of these ceremonies and listened to the comments of the bereaved families, I know that the symbolic playing of taps helps ease the pain of their loss. So many times folks have told me how proud their departed soldier, sailor or marine would have been, and how pleased they would be hearing the sad sounds of taps being played in their memory.

A couple of years ago I heard about a new organization that had started in Chicago called Bugles across America (BAA). A retired Marine Gunny Sergeant by the name of Tom Day founded BAA when he first learned that there was such a shortage of buglers, that they had resorted to playing recordings of Taps, and even more recently had invented a devise that you stick into the bell of a bugle that plays a digital version of taps, while a person holds the bugle up to their lips.

Today there are thousands of men and women, young and old, veterans and non veterans who have dusted off their horns and have volunteered to perform taps for military funerals and other solemn occasions.

I want family members and other folks to be aware of the fact that you do not have to settle for recordings, and phony bugle players to honor your departed veterans. The members of Bugles across America are ready, willing, able and proud to perform taps for our honored diseased veterans.

If and when you ever have a need for a real live bugler, there are several things that you can do. First of all you can tell your Funeral Director that you want them to contact Bugles across America. There is a web site: www.buglesacrossamerica.org, or you can call 401 782 6133 and tell Mike Jackson, the Rhode Island Director of BAA that you need a bugler. We will be there.

Thanks to all veterans for their gift to the nation, and God Bless America.