Of all the bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or able to stir emotions than the call, “Taps”. In addition to signaling the close of a soldier’s day, the deeply moving 24 notes are a solemn tradition at funerals, wreath-laying and memorial services.
In January of 2000, Congress passed a bill guaranteeing eligible United States veterans a full military service that includes the folding of the flag and the playing of “Taps” at their funeral. Due to a lack of available buglers, the military estimates they can supply only 20 percent of the necessary buglers for the traditional ceremony. As a result, military funerals increasingly feature boom box versions, or a computerized chip inserted in a fake bugle playing a recording of the historic melody. For many, this is a poor substitute for the emotional experience tied to a live horn.
Enter Thomas Day and Bugles Across America. The former Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant wanted the families and friends of deceased veterans to have something he believed was a more noble send-off for individuals who had served their country. In late 2000, Day founded Bugles Across America, a non-profit organization with the goal of providing “Taps” via a live rendition at every veteran’s funeral.
Since its inception, Day has recruited over 5,000 horn players in America and abroad and the organization has collectively done more than 60,000 funerals thus far. There is no charge for the service.
Day has performed at more than 1,000 ceremonies on a bugle that is authenticated as being the same bugle used at the funeral of U.S. President William McKinley in 1901.
To request a bugler, volunteer or make a donation, visit Bugles Across America.