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“Taps” for Japanese-American WWII Veteran at Evergreen Washelli in Seattle

Posted by glennled on August 21, 2011

Yesterday, I played “Taps” as part of the military honors accorded a Japanese-American veteran who served in World War II after having first been interned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho with his family. Born in 1923 in Seattle, he was 18 when the U.S.A. entered the war. Within a year after internment, he enlisted in the Army. He served as a translator of Japanese for the Military Intelligence Service during the reconstruction of Japan. He died 25 December 2010. His wife, also born in Seattle, died 14 July 2011. They were married 61 years.

The graveside service at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery in Seattle was led by the head minister of Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Church. Near the end of the service, the Honor Guard carefully unfolded the American flag and dramatically displayed it to the family and friends. That was my signal to sound “Taps.”

I now own my version of “Taps.” Before, I had been experimenting with slight variations in the way I would play those 24-notes. But as of yesterday, I realized that I’ve now worked out every detail of how I play it. I’ve chosen the key signature, tempo, rhythm, phrasing, and dynamics. I know when to breathe, I know when to use vibrato, I know how long to hold each fermata, I know when to make the notes swell and when to let them fade. Whether loud or soft, I keep the tone solid.

The Honor Guard then folded the flag and presented it to a gentleman in a dark suit. Afterwards, he thanked me.

“Are you his son?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“A good life?” I asked.

“Yes, a wonderful life, a wonderful man!”

I said I served in the Navy and thanked him for his father’s service. I said I would like to know more about his story. “It’s my honor and privilege to play for him today.”

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