Little known? Not quite. The military started studying the potential use of digital bugles way back in 2002. The first 50 went to Missouri for testing.
The problem is that there are only around 500 military buglers, but around 2,000 vets die nationwide on a daily basis. There just aren't enough buglers (who can play taps on a real bugle) to go around. We have one locally, but with a large veteran population it's not uncommon for more than one vet funeral to be happening at different cemeteries at the same time. So there are also a couple digital bugles that we use. A live bugler is the first choice, but sometimes it just isn't possible. The digital bugle isn't a blanket replacement, but rather a visual alternative to a cassette/CD recording on a boom box.
Before the digital bugle we used cassette recordings, but they deteriorated after a year or so of use.
When I was in high school from 70 to 74 we would go to vet funerals and one would play taps at the service. I would go to the corner of the cemetery and play the echo. Then they would fire the rifles for the salute, and fold and present the flag. I always had tears which I way I chose to play the echo taps. We did it for dad but the team used a battery PA for the echo taps. The local VFW/american legion provide the honor guards.
That and putting out all the flags on Memorial day, very important rituals.
Went to a funeral 2 weeks ago for an old childhood neighbor. 92 years old. Korean War vet. His kids arranged for an Honor Guard. Bugler played taps, maybe digital, don’t know. The flag folding ceremony and presentation to the family was heartbreaking. I guess there’s not enough buglers to go around. But boy my childhood friends gave their Dad the last full measure of respect. As a veteran myself I was so touched.
My wife's father was retired Army Ranger. He passed away and had a military funeral at a military cemetery in VA.
There were several Army soldiers present who helped with playing taps, a rifle salute and folding the flag and presenting it to my wife.
After the flag was folded the soldier with the flag walked over to my wife and said in a soft voice: "on behalf of the President and Secretary of the Army, we thank your father for his service". Very emotional.
Just buried my Korean era Marine stepfather 11/9. Taps were played during visitation 11/8. I thought it was a recording and turned around to see an old soldier with a bugle. It was perfect. He played again at the funeral and two young Marines folded and presented the flag. Beautiful!
Oh man, l know. It’s been two weeks and I still can’t get over it. The most emotional event I’ve ever attended. When that steely eyed US Army honor guard presented that flag to my childhood friends and said “ We thank your father for his service” I officially lost it. I’m not emotional by nature but everyone has their limitations. The bigger question is, should families be made aware of the fact that “taps” may be pre-recorded and are they ok with that. To do it without the families knowledge makes me a bit uncomfortable.
Aw maybe I think too much. My friends funeral was such a great send off. I’m sure most of these buglers can carry a tune in a pinch if their digital bugles fail. I’m sure families are made aware of that. Either way I miss my friend.
I found out about this about 2 years ago at my uncles funeral (Vietnam Vet, welcome home sir). He had to option to be buried at the Houston National Cemetery (where he would have had a live bugler), but chose to be buried at a local cemetery instead. No live bugler was available, so they used one of these, and I did not know till I talked to the bugler afterwards when I went to thank him. He was a little embarrassed to tell me, but as said above, I think it is better to have the symbolic player vs just a recording playing over a speaker. Brought tears to my eyes for sure, recording or not.
And a totally separate topic, what is wrong with that reporters face on the 2nd video, looks like somebody punched her in the face. Why do people think that looks good?
When I was doing basic training in the Australian army, I enjoyed learning the fieldcraft and weapons handling, but I was surprised at the amount of drill, dress uniforms and formal ceremony we learnt and how much we had to practice it. Particularly for combat troops who were expecting to spend most of their time out field.
Fast forward a few years, with troops being deployed to Afghanistan and casualties being sent home. Suddenly I got it. This ceremony is very important, especially to the family to help them find closure with their loss. For us it was always done by the close friends of the fallen, not subcontracted to a ceremonial troop. We looked after our own mates and it had to be perfect for their family. For some this is all they have, with IEDs and such, a final viewing isn’t always possible.
Not passing comment on Taps music, just saying how important these final ceremonies are.
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