meaning taps funeral

Taps” originally began as a way to alert soldiers that it was time to get to sleep. The bugle melody quickly became much more than that. Anyone who has been to a military funeral or memorial service understands the significance of the 24-note song. This Memorial Day, it’s important to look back at the historic song’s origins.

U.S. General Daniel Butterfield wasn’t a fan of the Army’s standard bugle call during the Civil War telling troops it was time to go to bed. He believed it should be more melodious. He set about to change that. In the process, he changed much more. The General and his troops were camped at Harrison’s Landing in July 1862. That is where “Taps” was created and quickly became an Army standard.

After he finished writing it, he had brigade bugler, Private Oliver Wilcox Norton, play it for the men. It was very well received and quickly spread throughout the Army. It even caught on with some Confederates!

Soon after “Taps” was written, it was played at a military funeral. Captain John Tidball was the Commanding Officer of a Union cannoneer who was killed in action. Tidball believed “Taps” was a safer choice at the funeral than the traditional firing of three rifle volleys as the bugle couldn’t be misconstrued as an attack by those not present at the funeral.

The song was officially called “Extinguish Lights” in military manuals until 1891. After that, the name officially changed to “Taps.” This name likely came from the three drum taps that followed the original bugle call prior to “Taps” creation.

It didn’t take long for “Taps” to become the standard at military funerals. A song that signifies the end of the day is an appropriate choice as it also parallels the end of a life sacrificed for this country.

You can see several renditions of “Taps” by the buglers of The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” at Arlington Cemetary in the video below. “Pershing’s Own” performs at Arlington over 5000 times every year for veterans and visitors from all over.

Share this if you are thankful for all those who have fought and continue to fight for this country!

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