Encouraging Civilian Taps Bugler Volunteerism
In 2000, the US Department of Defense ruled that EVERY American who has ever served in the military has the right to receive a full miltary honors funeral. That includes a minimum two person Honor Guard and the playing of Taps.
If a live bugler is not available, Taps may be played on a recorded device. It is estimated that well over a hundred thousand US military veterans are put to rest each year to the sound of the recording of Taps.
Every day is Memorial Day for 1500 - 1800 families around the country.
According to the Pentagon, only 19% of military honors funerals will have a fellow America playing Taps - click to read article (USA Today November 2009).
Here's the OperationTaps approach:
1) Make yourself available by volunteering with the nationwide database Bugles Across America.
You may be contacted to volunteer for services within a designated radius from your home. You are not required to fulfill any request. There is also alot of great info on the protocol involved.
2) Contact at least 3 veterans organizations in your area and let them know that you may be available to play Taps. Examples include the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or any Veterans Outreach center.
3) Learn about a veteran. ANY veteran. Learn their story. Ask them what they've learned about Honor, Valor, Sacrifice, Teamwork, and Courage. A lot of us older guys may have taken for granted the lessons our fathers taught us. The next generation may never have access to those teachings. There are many examples at: The Veterans History Project.
Finally... I think about my father. He was raised during the Great Depression (the real Great Depression) and signed up at the age of 16 to go fight Hitler (the real Hitler). My father wasn't special, millions of Americans of that generation did the same thing.
The thought of someone else's father or grandfather (or ANY family member) being put to rest to the sound of a recording while my horn sits in the closet would be very disappointing to my father.
That is what motivates me to do anything I can, not just for my father's generation, but the generations that will follow us.