Monday, November 12, 2012
Every faith, country and religion has its traditions. In America, Taps is a time-honored ritual to honor veterans at their funerals. Unfortunately, there are too many dying veterans... and too few buglers. An extreme shortage of buglers to play Taps at the funerals of veterans. On this chilly October day at Resthaven Cemetery, Tim Emerson is on his eighth mission.
"The families much prefer a live bugler over a digital bugle," Emerson explains, "which is a bugle with a recording device inside of it that actually plays a digital version of Taps, or a CD which they push play and Taps is sounded."
On this day, Billy Foster is being laid to rest. A Korean War veteran, Foster was severely wounded at the age of 24. His sacrifice put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. And on this day, Foster will be honored by a fellow veteran he never knew.
As the American Flag is folded and presented to Foster's family, the somber solace of Taps is sounded. Tim Emerson is honored to be able to do it.
Bugles Across America was created in 2000. Now several thousand strong, it's still not enough, as veterans die at a rate of more than 1,500 per day.
"We need more buglers," Emerson says. "So if there's an interest there, people can volunteer simply by going to the Bugles Across America website."
The mission of Bugles Across America is to provide a live sounding of Taps powered by heart rather than batteries. And that heart means so much to people like Gene Foster.
"I think our services are built on tradition and honor," Foster says with emotion. "And I think that was fulfilled today."
Other family members greet Emerson afterwards to express their gratitude.
"They can't thank me enough," Emerson says, "but I tell you what, I thank them for their family member's service. I know the value of that and I think that's very important."
Tim Emerson finishes Taps and all is quiet. He snaps his horn down and waits for the grieving family to leave.
Billy Gene Foster
August 22, 1936 - September 27, 2012
If you would like to learn more, visit Bugles Across America via the link provided.