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Memorial Day Memories

June 3, 2010 - Michael Palmer

This past memorial day while decorating graves, my wife and I recalled some memories of memoiral days when my father was commender of the Ameican Legion post. Every Memorial Day we would visit the local cemetery and decorate all of the veterans gaves with flags and brass markers for their appropriate war then hold a ceremony to honor the fallen heroes.

My official part in the ceremony was as post bugler.

It was a tradition that I began as a grade school member of the band. I played the trumpet, which is a bugle with valves and one of the first tunes I learned the fingerings for was Taps.

This came in handy being in my family. My dad immediately told the post about my achievement and I began a career as bugler at military funerals.

This was a task I took very seriously and when a funeral with full miltary honors was held, I chose my partner to play the echo very carefully. In addition to the privelege of honoring a veteran, this also allowed me to get out of school for any funerals I was to play Taps for during the school year.

The VFW was my favorite, their commander would show up at the school with his chrome .45 Colt auto strapped in a holster and wisk me away in his suburban to the local post where I would receive a cold glass of Coke and sometimes share a sandwich or bowl of soup with the color guard, This was also when some of them would share their memories of past wars they had served in. It was a fascinating lesson in history that no school book could match. 

The weather would sometimes be miserable for the funeral services. Ranging from torrential rains to cold and windy with snow so heavy that my only clue to when Taps began would be the firing of the rifles in the salute.

So many of those old soldiers have since joined their fallen comrades and this Memorial Day we remembered them. There was always a picnic afterwards where the families would gather and since we have lost touch with so may of those friends we shared a special day with for years. 

If you are interested in further reading on the history of TAPS visit this web site:



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