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150 Years Of ‘Taps’

I enjoyed every bit of this story and, like this reader, I am also a trumpet player who can relate to the Kennedy experience. — Mike

Steve D wrote:

This hit very close to home. I too was a trumpet player and bugler in the Air Force between 1975 and 1980 in the 528 Air Force Band at Scott AFB, IL, outside St. Louis. I’ve played Taps something in the hundreds of times for sure. I still play trumpet regularly, and occasionally bugle calls – most recently a local feting of military academy students.

I didn’t know the history of the piece and learning it was interesting.

But what really struck me was the story of the bugler at Kennedy’s funeral. Just like running, playing a brass instrument involves a muscle that wants to be warmed up and flexible before being put through its paces. So – there you are. Outside in the cold for 3 hours, waiting, muscle slowly stiffening. The moment comes, the whole world stops to listen. The horn is cold, your lip is cold and stiff – it would be more surprising if he hadn’t split an attack. It happens to all of us sometimes in this business. I did a funeral at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery one time at -20F. Visualize the kid sticking his tongue to the frozen flag pole in the movie Christmas Story – that’s what really happens if you put cold damp flesh on frozen metal. I really felt for Kennedy’s bugler hearing this story.

Listen to the whole story: at

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