This is a discussion on TAPS within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which taps were played; this brings out a new meaning of it. Here ...

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Thread: TAPS

  1. #1
    Member Array Golden Dragon's Avatar
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    Dec 2007


    If any of you have ever been to a
    military funeral in which taps were played; this brings out a new
    meaning of it.

    Here is something Every American
    should know. Until I read this, I didn't know, but I checked it out
    and it's true:

    We in the United States have all
    heard the haunting song, 'Taps'. It's the song that gives us that
    lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.

    But, do you know the story behind the
    song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its
    humble beginnings.

    Reportedly, it all began in 1862
    during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was
    with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia . The Confederate
    Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

    During the night, Captain Ellicombe
    heard the moans 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 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

    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, heartbroken,
    the 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 a series of musical notes he had found on a piece
    of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.

    This wish was granted.

    The haunting melody, we now know as
    'Taps' used at military funerals was born.

    The words are:
    Day is done.
    Gone the sun.
    From the lakes.
    From the hills.
    From the sky.
    All is w ell.
    Safely rest.
    God is nigh.

    Fading light.
    Dims the sight.
    And a star.
    Gems the sky.
    Gleaming bright.
    From afar.
    Drawing nigh.
    Falls the night.

    Thanks and praise.
    For our days.
    Neath the sun.
    Neath the stars.
    Neath the sky.
    As we go.
    This we know.
    God is nigh

    I too have felt the chills while
    listening to 'Taps' but I have never seen all the words to the song
    until now. I didn't even know there was more than one verse. I also
    never knew the story behind the song and I didn't know if you had
    either so I thought I'd pass it a long.

    I now have an even deeper respect for
    the song than I did before.

    Remember Those Lost and Harmed While
    Serving Their Country.
    Also Remember Those Who Have Served
    And Returned; and for those presently serving in the Armed Forces.

    Please send this on after a short prayer.

    Make this a Prayer wheel for our
    soldiers....please don't break it
    RO I & II

  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array jarhead79's Avatar
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    That is always a good read. I love the story.

    There are a few people here I'm sure who have had the honor, privelage, and sacred duty to be part of an honor detail. I personally have done several.

    Firing the rifles is not bad. Paul bearing is a little tougher. Folding the flag is almost impossible for me. I couldn't even begin to present the flag to the family member. There's no way I could get through it without choking up completely.

    I know there are some active duty members of our military here. I suggest that you take the opportunity to serve, by volunteering for an honor detail. You'll never regret it.

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  3. #3
    Member Array KG4ZRC's Avatar
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    Too bad it's fake...

    snopes.com: Origin of Taps

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  5. #4
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    Array RETSUPT99's Avatar
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    The story is a fake, but the words are real...never knew them.
    Old dogs can learn new words...

    Thanks for the post.
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  6. #5
    Member Array chenemf's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    I like the story posted above better than the real story. The West Point version takes the wind out of the sails on this one. Still gives the willies to hear it played no matter what the origin.

    My father was a WWII veteran and two soldiers came up from Fort Knox (I think) to be at his funeral in northern Ohio. They didn't have a bugler (there is a big shortage) so they played a recording. Still sounded good.


  7. #6
    Member Array major99's Avatar
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    My dad passed away on September 18th. He was a Naval vet. He served in the 60's. My two brothers were unable to carry the coffin due to their mental states of losing our dad. I made it all the way through the wake, the funeral service and carrying the casket to the grave for the graveside service. Two navy personnel were present and doing honor guard duty. I was holding it together until the tiny little blonde MP (very pretty BTW) picked up the bugle and started playing TAPS. It was then that I lost it. I was able to compose myself again until the other honor guard came over, knealt in front of my mother, outstretched his arms with the flag and said " on behalf of the armed forces and the President of the United States, we present you this flag for your loss." Very hard words to hear but very comforting as well. I want to thank ALL of you who served our country in peace times and war. Thank you all for your service and the very respectful way in which you deal with your dead.


  8. #7
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  9. #8
    Member Array KG4ZRC's Avatar
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    I like the story that was posted better too, but doesn't make it true. Stupid pet peeve.

    Taps always gives me the goosebumps... And yet I like listening to it...

    Doing an Honor Guard ceremony over the fallen dead of WWII in multiple cemetaries in Europe was the highlight of my high school years... Being able to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice... And Taps sending chills down my spine...

  10. #9
    Distinguished Member Array XD 45's Avatar
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    My gandfather was a USAF vet and I saw the bearing of the honor guard and when they played taps it sent chills down my spine and I have a deeper understanding of it now that I am fixing to be on AD and follow in his footsteps in the Air Force and being a 3rd generation Military member gives me great pride to serve and greater respect for all of those who paved the way for me to be able to serve. So to all Vets Past and Present Thank you
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  11. #10
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    Array buckeye .45's Avatar
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    Whenever taps plays I tend to get something in my eye, and chills.

    During boot camp we had a kid in my platoon who could play the trumpet, the DI's found one from somewhere, and Taps was played every night during lights out.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

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  12. #11
    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    That was the 2nd worst part of my dads funeral (as far as losing my "manly composure" goes). The worst was when I thought I had myself together, I went over to thank the Army guys for coming out and they each shook my hand and gave me the most heartfelt "It is an Honor." I rapidly became a blubbering idiot.
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  13. #12
    Array SIXTO's Avatar
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    I played the trumpet all through school and have played Taps several times for different things including military funerals. Its an interesting experiance to be the one playing it.

    A side note, the mark of a good trumpet player is to be able to play Taps without using the keys, much like a bugler does.
    "Just blame Sixto"

    I reserve the right to make fun, point and laugh etc.

  14. #13
    VIP Member Array Paco's Avatar
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    It amazes me how one can play Taps during a funeral, I would think that I would not be able to make my lips form the way they need to out of the grief.

    I guess that's when the feeling of honor takes over and it is done on more than your own strength.
    "Don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep." - Theodore Roosevelt


  15. #14
    Array SIXTO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paco View Post
    It amazes me how one can play Taps during a funeral, I would think that I would not be able to make my lips form the way they need to out of the grief.

    I guess that's when the feeling of honor takes over and it is done on more than your own strength.
    The first time I did it I was still in high school, I was 15 or so. My friends dad died who was a Korean war vet. They couldnt get a military bugler, so they asked me to do it.
    I looked at it as a honor and a small token of appreciation to both the family and the dead. It wasnt hard to get through at all.
    "Just blame Sixto"

    I reserve the right to make fun, point and laugh etc.

  16. #15
    Senior Member Array Divebum47's Avatar
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    After spending a period of time at sea, including time in SEA, I pulled shore duty at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Columbus, Ohio. My rate and rank was Gunner's Mate 1st Class. Since I was not a office type, and was Regular Navy, I caught some of the less attractive details. I was the person who did prisoner escort for awol's and deserters, took care of the center's restricted and sensitive publications, and was also in charge of Military Funerals. I would guess that I lead the Funeral Detail on around 80 Funerals during my tour in Columbus - 1972-1975. Doing the funerals was tougher than being on the PBR's. One specific incident remains in my memory and probably will until the day I'm dead and gone. The teen age daughter of a Naval Officer killed in Vietnam actually tried to climb into the grave when they lowered her father's casket. As I sit here typing this, I have a little trouble seeing the screen through misty eyes. The only way I could rationalize presenting the Flag to the families is that I felt that it was important that someone who had "been there" should present the Colors. And I would never, never order any of my subordinates to do something I would not do. The playing of Taps still makes the short hairs on my arms stand at attention, and conjures up memories - most of which are somewhat less than pleasant. But it still is with a modicum of pride that I know I helped with closure for some families in Central Ohio.

    A bit of trivia - all Military Bugle calls are made up from only 4 notes. And they are the same notes for all of the calls.
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