Thursday, May 19, 2011

History of TAPS

As I am preparing for Memorial Day, I ran across this history of the bugle call, TAPS. I thought you might like to learn about the history of this solemn call.

Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotion than Taps. Up to the Civil War, the traditional call at day's end was a tune, borrowed from the French, called Lights Out. In July of 1862, in the aftermath of the bloody Seven Days battles, hard on the loss of 600 men and wounded himself, Union General Daniel Adams Butterfield called the brigade bugler to his tent. He thought "Lights Out" was too formal and he wished to honor his men.

    Oliver Wilcox Norton, the bugler, tells the story, "...showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, (he) asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades, asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. The call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac."
This more emotive and powerful Taps was soon adopted throughout the military. In 1874 It was officially recognized by the U.S. Army. It became standard at military funeral ceremonies in 1891. There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.
The origin of the word "Taps" is thought to have come from the Dutch word for "Tattoo"- "Taptoe." More than likely, "Taps" comes from the the three drum taps that were played as a signal for "Extinguish Lights" when a bugle was not used. As with many other customs, the twenty-four notes that comprise this solemn tradition began long ago and continue to this day.
While there are no official lyrics for Taps, the following unofficial verse (author unknown) is often used:

    Fading light dims the sight, And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright. From afar drawing nigh -- Falls the night. Day is done, gone the sun, From the lake, from the hills, from the sky; All is well, safely rest, God is nigh. Then good night, peaceful night, Till the light of the dawn shineth bright; God is near, do not fear -- Friend, good night.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We Remember Them

I ran across this poem as I am preparing for out upcoming Memorial Day. I choose to remember our loved who gave so much for our freedom. The light of their lives still shine on.
A Litany of Remembrance
Roland B. Gittelsohn

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We remember them.
In the opening buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
We remember them.

When we are lost and are sick of heart,
We remember them.

When we have Joys we yearn to share,
We remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live,
For they are now a part of us,
As we remember them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Decade of Anguish Ends with Death of Osama Bin Laden

The events of September 11, 2001 forever changed my family.  I remember my son, Heath, coming from home school and stating he was going to fight for his country. Upon his graduation in 2005, he left to become a Marine and was KIA on 11/22/06 by an IED in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. Since then, I have spent the last ten years of my life in some form of anguish.  I never thought I would hear Osama Bin Laden was captured and dead.

Late Sunday night my youngest son came into our family room and stated matter of factly that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. My first reaction was one of disbelief and I told him not to joke about something as important as that. He said it was on the news. Before I even turned the news on I received a tweet from Heath's girlfriend thanking us for Heath's sacrifice and for being part of history to bring this day to pass. I immediately went to my social media sites to see what had happened.

I have to admit I found myself overwhelmed in the moment. I could not process the emotions I felt -profound pride, deep sadness, disbelief and tears. It was as if I was hit by a tsunami of emotions of everything I had experienced since the events of 9/11. I guess deep within I struggled with the fact was my son's death in vain and over the last five years my personal life imploded as grief and depression exploded.

Osama Bin Laden's death has confirmed once and for all, my son's death was not in vain.  Our country stood strong, firm in our commitment to pursue the fight for freedom and to bring justice to those who terrorize our world. It took ten long years of anguish for those of us who actually understood by our personal pain the high cost of freedom – the blood, sweat and tears of our loved ones.  I am so proud of our special forces, troops, our country and most importantly my son Heath. To those of you who went about as business as usual taking for granted our suffering and now celebrate in this victory, all I can say to you is...God Bless America!