We in the United States have all heard the somber tune of ‘Taps’, it’s the song that gives all Americans a lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes, especially to all Veterans.
Have you ever been to a U.S. military funeral service with “Taps” and 21-gun salute? I too have felt the chills while listening to ‘Taps’.
I have understood more of the history of America while studying this song. There would not be you without them fighting for us. I sang some of these verses in Girl Scouts, did you?
There were other words throughout the years, but the melody has stayed the same. Being from a military family my whole life, I don’t know anything other than patriotism.
I wanted to learn more of the history of the tune, so after researching the history of ‘Taps’, I had to share it. Wow! This brings more meaning to me, at this Memorial Day time of the year, in remembrance of all those that gave their life, so we could live in this free country.
I think you will be interested to find out about its historical beginnings during the Civil War. During the first part of the Civil War in 1862, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellison was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of a narrow strip of land.
During the night, Captain Ellison heard the cries of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his own life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock.
In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son! The boy had been studying music in the south when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army. The following morning, the heartbroken father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician.
The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play the series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform. The melody, we now know as ‘Taps’ used at military funerals was born.
My father told me, “To this day at the end of each day, while in the military, they play this tune with a bugle every night to remind you of your fallen friends,” please never forget their sacrifice for our freedom. God bless America! Remember those who died, so we could live, while serving our country.
This Memorial Day weekend remember those who died for our freedom sacrifices!
Remember When is a weekly column in the Burton View featuring historical stories about the community from the Burton Area Historical Society. If you have some Burton history to share, email History.Mona@yahoo.com.