According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 600,000 U.S. military veterans die every year. By federal law, all of those veterans are entitled upon request to military funeral honors, which includes the playing of “Taps.”

“Taps,” a simple 24 notes played on the bugle, has been offered as the final salute to America’s fallen ever since the Civil War. Composed for the bugle and unique to the U.S. military, “Taps” is played at funerals, wreath-laying ceremonies and memorial services. The melody has the dual purpose of signaling the day’s end and serving as musical honors to service members who have died.

“Taps,” America’s National Song of Remembrance is named for the three distinctive drum taps also used to signal “lights out.” The song is a variation of the “Scott Tattoo” bugle call used in the United States from 1835 until 1860. Union Gen. Daniel Butterfield arranged it in its present form to replace a French bugle call that signaled the day’s end, and just months later “Taps” played by the Union and Confederate armies. The United States Army officially recognized it in 1874.

Federal law does not specify that a live bugler play “Taps,” so some funerals tend to use a portable CD player or faux bugles with a device in the bell of the instrument that plays a digital recording of the song. There is no substitute for a real musician at such a solemn event, and Amery is fortunate enough to have four students who play “Taps” at military funerals. 

The students are provided transportation and In accordance with Wisconsin Act 42, Amery students who sound taps during a military honors funeral for a deceased veteran earn $25.00 each time they play taps. Currently the following students are 12th-grader Lance Hiltner, 11th-grader Lydia Monson, 10th-grader Jabin Friberg and eighth grader Kobe Stinson.

Veteran’s Day is Nov. 11, 2018. While Veterans Day is primarily a tribute to America’s living veterans, and should be observed more as a celebration than as a somber remembrance, it is always appropriate to include a moment of respect for those who gave their lives for their country. That being said, it is common to have a moment of silence and the playing of “Taps” of Veterans Day as well. With the observance of Veterans Day nearly approaching, learn about a veteran. Learn their story and ask them what they’ve learned about honor, valor, sacrifice, teamwork and courage. Lastly, do not forget to thank a Veteran this upcoming Sunday.

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