Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Archive for the ‘Ceremonies & Celebrations’ Category

More Bands with Brilliant Brass at 2019 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland

Posted by glennled on August 27, 2019

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Opening Fanfare, 2019 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

 

The theme of this year’s Royal Ediniburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland was “Kaleidoscope 2019—A Celebration of Glorious Symmetry.” This iconic tattoo is in its 69th season. More than 14 million people have attended the tattoo, and attendance has been a sell-out for 20 consecutive years. It’s spectacular. This year’s show was performed nightly from 2-24 August (~three weeks) on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, and my wife and I attended for the fourth time. We went on opening night. The planning, skill, fitness, discipline, obedience, alertness, teamwork, intelligence, and willpower on display in this show are indicative of what makes an effective, victorious military. And the music is terrific!

The current show features more bands with brass instruments than the other three that we have attended, so it’s one of my favorites. I shot about 400 photos, with close attention on trumpet players. Wouldn’t it be a thrill to perform in this world-famous tattoo, “the Granddaddy of Them All?” Here are a few photos.

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Pipe bands cross the Edinburgh Castle drawbridge onto the esplanade

Performers came from Scotland, England, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, France, China, Nepal, Tasmania, Nigeria, Trinidad, and Tabago. I love the pipes and drums, but I also love conventional wind bands comprised of brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. This year, there were more than the usual number of the latter (in order of appearance):

  • Guards Brigade Band, Silent Drill Platoon and Nigerian Cultural Ensemble
  • Heeresmusikkorps Kassel (Army Band Kassel, Germany)
  • Music De L’Artillerie (Artillery Band of the French Army)
  • Beijing Marching Wind Band and Cultural Display (China)
  • New Zealand Army Band
  • Band of the Scots Guards
  • Band of the Irish Guards
  • Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • Tattoo Stage Band

For me, the abundance of these bands made this year’s tattoo one of the top two which I’ve attended. And I’m always thrilled with anticipation when the herald trumpets sound the fanfare to open the show. This year two trumpet ensembles played “Pure Light” and “The Prism.”

The kaleidoscope was invented in 1816 by the Scotsman, Sir David Brewster. The instrument displays infinite combinations of patterns and colors. One hundred and twelve years earlier, in 1704, Sir Isaac Newton named seven hues of color in the visible spectrum of light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (ROYGBIV). Various mixtures of these hues form all colors, including white. Each group in the show was assigned one of Newton’s hues to use in its performance, thus creating a kaleidoscopic effect, representing the “fabulous and constantly changing human mosaic.”

More than 800 musicians created a human kaleidoscope image when they assembled together as the massed military bands and massed pipes and drums . Watching the many intricate, technically precise formations, maneuvers, and movements of the marchers and dancers, dressed in multi-colored uniforms and clothes, was like watching the ever-changing images inside a kaleidoscope.

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Side-stepping by The French Artillery Band Lyon

If you can’t get to Edinburgh for the next tattoo, perhaps you could attend one of these:

Anne, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, is Patron of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. She writes in the tattoo program, “…the glorious symmetries of marching men and women, their disciplined approach—whatever the weather!—the music, the lighting, the projections [onto the castle wall], fireworks, special effects, the storyline and the appreciation of the audience are the very essence of ‘Tattoo.'”

The tattoo is a not-for-profit charity and has raised more than 11 million pounds for many good armed services beneficiaries and arts organizations over the years.

For my accounts of two of the past three tattoos we have attended, please see my blog posts of 6 September 2018 and 18 September 2014, using the Archives in the left column. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

Posted in Ceremonies & Celebrations, Festivals & Competitions, Professional Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Music at 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing Ceremony at Neil Armstrong Plaza in Edmonds

Posted by glennled on July 24, 2019

 

LtoR-Hoggins, Vogel, Earling, Clark

L to R: Dale Hoggins, Larry Vogel, Mayor Dave Earling, and Dennis Clark. Vogel holds his copy of The New York Times from 50 years ago. Clark, while a high school student, spearheaded the idea of honoring Neil Armstrong with a monument in Edmonds. Hoggins, former Edmonds School District principal, once coached Clark in Little League baseball. Mayor Earling officially re-dedicated the monument. Photo by Julia Wiese, My Edmonds News.

 

20 July 2019 minus 20 July 1969 = 50 years. And that’s how long it’s been since Neil Armstrong and Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin walked on the moon. The whole nation, the whole world is remembering this most amazing event in human history.

In Edmonds, the occasion sparked the creation, dedication, and re-dedication of the Apollo 11 Monument which now sits downtown in the Neil Armstrong Plaza. Never heard of it? Nor had I, but after last Saturday, I’ll never forget it. I found it at the north end of the Edmonds Police Station, just off 5th Street. There, I provided the music for the re-dedication ceremony at 9 a.m. on 20 July—two bugle calls on my Getzen bugle and three songs on my Getzen trumpet:

Apollo 11 Monument, Edmonds, by Feliks Banel

The gray Apollo 11 Monument in Neil Armstrong Plaza, Edmonds, turned golden at sunset. Photo by Feliks Banel.

  • “Assembly”
  • “To the Color”
  • “Anchors Aweigh” (for Neil Armstrong, Naval Aviator and test pilot)
  • “Wild Blue Yonder” (for Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., Air Force fighter pilot, Korean War, and Michael Collins, Air Force test pilot and author)
  • “America the Beautiful”
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Apollo 11 Crew (L to R): Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins. NASA photo.

About 40 people attended. Felix Banel, noted Northwest historian and KIRO-FM radio personality, emceed the re-dedication event. Historian Larry Vogel, the keynote speaker, told of how, in his boyhood, he was caught up in the space race with the Soviet Union in the late 1950s through the 1960s. After the moon walk, “I ran out the next morning as soon as the newspapers hit the stands [on Long Island, his home] and picked up a copy of The New York Times—I knew it would be historic. For the first time, the staid Times ran a headline in the largest type they had ever used—‘Men Walk on Moon.’ I’ve kept it safely at the bottom on my sock drawer ever since!”

Mayor Dave Earling reflected on the moon walk and then read the proclamation, re-dedicating the monument. He promised to upgrade the plaza and make it more well-known. Afterwards, I learned that he is a former trumpet player and was a music teacher and the Band Director, Shoreline Community College, 1967-1978. Then he became real estate broker, manager, and owner of Edmonds Realty for 25 years. He lives in Perrinville, where I live also. He owns 5 trumpets, and his favorite is a King.

After the ceremony concluded, I went, as part of the VFW Post 1040 Honor Guard, to Edmonds Cemetery for a memorial service. There I sounded “Taps” immediately after the rifle team rendered the three-volley rifle salute for the deceased Navy veteran.

And from there, I went to busk at the Veterans Plaza next to the Edmonds Saturday Market in downtown Edmonds. I played songs for an hour and a half—I do this two-to-four times a summer to fundraise. All donations are split between VFW Post 1040, Lynnwood, and VFW Post 8870, Edmonds. So far this summer, having busked three times, I’ve raised $140, donated by the generous people who attend the market and come to the adjacent plaza to sit and listen to the trumpet. I’m a lucky man. Please see my posts of 7 July and 11 October 2017, using the Archives in the left column.

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Plaque on Apollo 11 Monument, Edmonds. Photo courtesy of Larry Vogel.

 

Apollo 11 and the Monument

The Apollo 11 monument was designed to resemble a space capsule by local sculptor and Edmonds Community College art teacher, Howard Duell. Made of concrete and brass, it stands more than 11 feet high and weighs about 3,800 pounds. On the front is depicted Armstrong’s moon walk with the American flag planted in the lunar surface in 1969. On the back is the Saturn V rocket on its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the moon rising behind, as the Apollo 11 mission prepares for launch.

It was originally dedicated on 4 July 1976, our nation’s bicentennial date. Washington Gov. Dan Evans issued a declaration naming the occasion as “Neil Armstrong Plaza Day.” Larry Vogel wrote, “the crowd gathered, the ribbon was cut, and the monument dedicated just in time for the start of the Fourth of July parade.”

Michael Collins was the third member of the Apollo 11 crew. He remained in orbit around the moon inside the Columbia space capsule while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon, exploring the area and gathering moon rocks for analysis.

My Edmonds News recently published two articles about the original dedication of the monument and the re-dedication ceremonies, and Feliks Banel posted another:

Photos are courtesy of My Edmonds News, Julia Wiese, photographer, unless otherwise credited. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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Independence Day: “I Stand for the Flag” Trumpet Show at Fairwinds Brighton Court in Lynnwood, After the Edmonds Parade

Posted by glennled on July 21, 2019

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Partial view of audience, “I Stand for the Flag” trumpet show at Fairwinds Brighton Court, Lynnwood, Independence Day, 2019

 

It was a special joy, coming back to Fairwinds Brighton Court in Lynnwood to perform my second one-hour trumpet show there. The audience was large—about 60. It’s where my dear mother-in-law, Ruth MacDonald, occupied Room 344 for three years, and she used to love to come to the room pictured above to hear musicians play and sing.

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Juna Davies, piano, accompanies Glenn Ledbetter, Getzen trumpet

This time, my show was “I Stand for the Flag,” comprised of 25 patriotic marches and songs. It was on Independence Day, the Fourth of July, in the afternoon, right after I had marched among other veterans in the Edmonds Parade, carrying the Navy flag and my Getzen bugle. My former performance at Brighton Court was of another of my shows, “Showtune Favorites” (please see my blog post of 29 September 2018).

At both performances, I was accompanied on the piano for certain songs by Juna Davies, a fellow resident and friend of Ruth’s. Together, we played six songs this time:

  • “The Navy Hymn” (Eternal Father, Strong to Save)
  • “This is My Country”
  • “America the Beautiful”
  • “God Bless America”
  • “You’re a Grand Old Flag”
  • “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Photos are courtesy of Fairwinds Brighton Court. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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On Flag Day at Covenant Shores, Mercer Island: “I Stand for the Flag” Trumpet Show

Posted by glennled on July 16, 2019

Glenn Ledbetter at Covenant Shores

“I Stand for the Flag” trumpet show at Covenant Shores on Flag Day, 14 June 2019

On Flag Day, 14 June, I returned to Covenant Shores Retirement Community on Mercer Island to perform a different show from the one I had performed about 13 months earlier. That was a show named “Showtune Favorites,” and this one is called “I Stand for the Flag.” It consists of 25 patriotic marches and songs and a bugle call, “Tattoo.” About 60 residents attended—an excellent turnout. To ensure that everyone could sing the last six songs to close the show, Nile Clarke and Chaplain Greg Asimakoupoulos distributed my handout of the lyrics to: 64218777_10157542828875774_385686663021461504_n

  • The Navy Hymn (Eternal Father, Strong to Save)
  • This is My Country
  • America the Beautiful
  • God Bless America
  • You’re a Grand Old Flag
  • The Star-Spangled Banner

It was grand.

On Flag Day, this retirement community was called “Covenant Shores,” but on 25 June, 11 days later, its name changed to “Covenant Living at the Shores.” This reflects its parent company’s own name change to Covenant Living Communities and Services (please see https://www.covliving.org/). For more information on this widely-known and revered Mercer Island retirement community, please see my blog post of 24 May 2018 and https://www.covlivingshores.org.

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Fairfield, WA Flag Day Parade—110 consecutive years, 1910-2019

Flag Day

Flag Day commemorates the adoption on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress, of the USA flag. In 1885, the idea of celebrating this event was born in Waubeka, Wisconsin when a 19-year old schoolteacher placed a 10″ flag with 38 stars in an inkwell and had his students write essays on what the flag means to them. He became a lifetime advocate of an annual observance, honoring of the birth of the flag. Flag ceremonies on 14 June had become quite prevalent by 1916, prompting President Woodrow Wilson to issue a proclamation establishing Flag Day as an annual national event. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed the legislation that designated 14 June 14th as national Flag Day and calling upon the President to issue a Flag Day proclamation annually. It is not an official, federal holiday.

Citizens display the flag at their homes and communities hold parades on Flag Day. And in 2010, the small farming town of Fairfield, Washington (southeast of Spokane, near the Idaho border) celebrated its “Centennial Parade”—the longest continuing Flag Day Parade in the nation, having begun there in 1910. That year, the census count established Fairfield’s population as 612. Please see https://fairfieldflagday.com/. In contrast, Appleton, Wisconsin (population almost 73,000 in 2010) holds an annual Flag Day Parade that draws crowds of 75,000 from the city and its surrounding region. Please see https://www.facebook.com/Appleton-Flag-Day-Parade-90849509066/.

Photos at Covenant Shores by Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos, Chaplain. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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Milestone—My 200th Sounding of “Taps”—at Rotary Club, Mercer Island

Posted by glennled on June 17, 2019

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Glenn Ledbetter, VFW Post 1040 Bugler, sounds “Taps” for 200th time, 5-28-2019.

On Monday, 27 May, the nation observed Memorial Day, and I sounded “Taps” at Veterans Park in Lynnwood. The next day, I sounded it twice. In the morning, it was for a Hmong pilot who fought with America in the Vietnam War. The ceremony was held at the Hero’s Café in the Verdant Community Wellness Center in Lynnwood. In the afternoon, it was for those Americans who died while in military service, as remembered by members of the Rotary Club on Mercer Island. That ceremony was held at a luncheon in the Mercer Island Community Center, and it was the 200th time I’ve sounded “Taps” during the 9 years that I have been VFW Post 1040 Bugler. As usual, I used by lovely Getzen bugle at both ceremonies.

It’s a significant milestone for me, but buglers who live near a national or state veterans cemetery quickly and easily surpass my number. Some buglers have sounded “Taps” more than 5,000 times!

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Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos (L) and Glenn Ledbetter (R

Let’s see—the first of my 200 was on 16 July 2011. Let’s call it 9 years ago. That’s an average of about 22 per year. Q: At that rate, how many more years will it take me to reach 5,000 soundings? A: 218. Q: How old will I be then? A: Almost 300. Forget it…trying for some goals just isn’t worth it.

I lived on Mercer Island for 34 years and served on the City’s Planning Commission for 10. It was Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos, Chaplain at Covenant Shores Retirement Community, who invited me to sound “Taps” after his short speech at the end of the Rotary Club luncheon. Please see https://glennstrumpetnotes.com/2018/05/24/trumpet-show-at-covenant-shores-retirement-community-on-mercer-island/.

Photos are by Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos.

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Bugle Calls: “Assembly,” “Echo Taps” and “To the Color” on Memorial Day at Veterans Park, Lynnwood, 2019

Posted by glennled on June 16, 2019

 

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Honor Guard, VFW Post 1040, Lynnwood. Photo by Lynnwood Today.

This is the 8th straight year that I have sounded the bugle calls at the Memorial Day ceremonies held at Veterans Park in downtown Lynnwood, home of VFW Post 1040 (please see https://vfw1040.org/). For me, it’s the most important military ceremony because it honors those who died while in military service of the United States of America, “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” This holiday traces its roots back to the Civil War.

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NW Jr. Pipe Band. Photo by Lynnwood Today.

On 27 May, in beautiful weather, about 250 people gathered remember and render their respect and honor. It appeared to be the largest crowd in my years with VFW Post 1040. On my superb Getzen bugle, I sounded “Echo Taps” with my former trumpet student, Zach Wilson, now a junior at North Creek High School in Bothell. In addition, I sounded the bugle calls “Assembly” (to start the program) and “To the Color” (at noon, after the ceremony, when the flag was raised to full staff).

Recently, I purchased the DVD,  “D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition” of Steven Spielberg’s 1998 movie, Saving Private Ryan. [It has now been 75 years since D-Day.] Please see https://www.amazon.com/Saving-Private-Ryan-Two-Disc-Special/dp/B0001NBLVI/ref=sr_1_2?crid=VJH9Z74BFRWH&keywords=saving+private+ryan+dvd&qid=1559912600&s=movies-tv&sprefix=saving%2Caps%2C203&sr=1-2

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Legion of Honor, Nile Shrine Center. Photo by Lynnwood Today.

When I’ve watched the film in the past in the theater and on TV, I’ve never been able to hear what Capt. John Miller whispered to Private Ryan just before Miller died. I bought the DVD for two reasons: to listen carefully to (a) Miller’s dying whispers and (b) what Ryan says to his wife years later when, as an old man, he and his family visit the American cemetery at Normandy.

Miller’s dying words are “James, earn this. Earn it.” Ryan says to his wife, “Tell me I’ve led a good life.” She responds, “What?” He says, “Tell me I’m a good man.” She replies, “You are.” My, oh, my, how much I admire my parents’ generation!—it was termed The Greatest Nation by Tom Brokaw.

Among other things, the film reminds me of the last stanza of the WWI poem, “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae:

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Photo by Lynnwood Today.

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Zach Wilson (L) and Glenn Ledbetter (R)

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In the film, both Miller and Ryan took up the torch—they lived and died carrying the torch for freedom. There is a saying today which I first heard from Raelynn Ricarte (please see my blog post of 20 July 2016). At a Memorial Day ceremony in 2016, she said, “Be an American worth dying for.”

Private Ryan tried to live up to the archetypal charge delivered to us all by McCrae, Miller, and Ricarte. Another Memorial Day—the bugle calls us to honor them and always remain grateful for their sacrifices and our heritage.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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“To the Color” and “Taps” at 5th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Edmonds Community College

Posted by glennled on June 10, 2019

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March to “Boots to Books” Monument. Photo by My Edmonds News.

 

The annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Edmonds Community College (ECC), held this year on 22 May at the Black Box Theatre, just keeps improving. This is the sixth such ceremony. The structure remains the same, and I think the execution is better. For one thing, Lt. Col. Jon Ramer, USAF (Ret.) was an excellent Master of Ceremonies. After his 25-year career, he is now the Veterans Event Coordinator for the City of Mill Creek. The excellent keynote speaker was Joe Wankelman, U.S. Army (Ret.).

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Myra Rintamaki, Gold Star Mother, escorted by Chris Szarek, Director, VRC. Photo by My Edmonds News.

There was a variety of music at various times in the program. Prior to the event, as the audience filed into their seats, the excellent five-member ECC Brass Ensemble played numerous pieces—two trumpets, French horn, trombone, and tuba, led by Stacey Eliason, ECC music faculty member. Peter Ali improvised on two of his flutes. Linda Kappus provided piano accompaniment as the audience sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.” Toby Beard played three songs on the bagpipes. And I sounded two bugle calls, “To the Color,” and “Taps.” I’ve been the bugler at all six of these ECC ceremonies. I use my beloved Getzen bugle.

For more information (including photos) about this annual ceremony and its sponsor, the ECC Veterans Resource Center (VRC), please see my blog posts of:

  • 31 May 2018
  • 28 June 2017
  • 20 July 2016
  • 18 August 2015
  • 17 June 2014

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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“Taps” and “The Navy Hymn” for Burials-at-Sea in Puget Sound Off the Ferry, Spokane

Posted by glennled on May 11, 2019

 

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“Let me go”—Joseph P. Doyon, 1922-2018

 

At about 9:50 a.m. on Saturday, 4 May, the Washington State Ferry, Spokane, enroute from Edmonds to Kingston, cut her engines and drifted for about five minutes in the ebb tide of Puget Sound while the ashes of Joseph P. Doyon and his oldest son, Paul, were committed to the sea. Joe died on 13 September 2018, age 95. His last home was in Tigard, Oregon, and his funeral service was held at Finley Sunset Hills Park and Mortuary in Portland on 7 October 2018. Paul died on 9 December 2017, age 62.

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Glenn Ledbetter plays “The Navy Hymn” aboard the ferry, Spokane

Joe was a World War II Navy veteran who participated in the D-Day landing at Normandy. I sounded “Taps” on my Getzen bugle, and the ferry captain gave three long blasts of the ship’s whistle in honor of him. As the ferry engines powered up and the ferry came up to speed, I closed the ceremony by playing “The Navy Hymn” on my Getzen trumpet. The family sang two verses:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
And those who on the ocean ply;
Be with our troops upon the land,
And all who for their country stand:
Be with these guardians day and night
And may their trust be in thy might.

Dale, Joe’s younger son, and his wife, Michelle, arranged this event. Michelle said that Joe loved to fish, golf and dance and was very sociable all his life. She called him a great man with many friends, a very hard worker, and a true gentleman. He spent many years writing the memoirs of his four years in the Navy and his WWII experiences. Dale intends to publish them soon. Michelle said that had Joe attended his own burial-at-sea ceremony, he would have said, “This is Marvelous!”

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Joe Doyon is standing (center) with pistol in hand during the Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944. The caption reads, “German prisoners were carried back to the west bank of the Rhine in landing boats. Prisoners on the boat fish some comrades out of the drink.”

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Joseph Paul Doyon, 1922-2018, U.S. Navy veteran, WWII

Fourteen family members attended; one daughter, JoAnn Watson, traveled from Arizona. Among others taking photos was a step-grandson, Matthew, an Eagle Scout and a trumpeter.

Joe was born in Augusta, Maine in 1922, and served in the Navy from 1943-1946. He became a Motor Machinist Mate Second Class. At age 21, he was aboard one of the first amphibious landing boats at Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944. Joe was awarded many medals (see photo). He was a member of the U.S. LST Association (see https://www.uslst.org/). He lived in Edmonds, Washington for about 45 years and had a 41-year career at University Swaging, shaping and joining metals for its clients. In 1987, he retired as Vice President and Manager of the Boat Division. He also lived for several years on a houseboat on Lake Union. Joe and Paul often fished in Appletree Cove and off Apple Cove Point near Kingston. It was Joe’s favorite spot. Paul’s death was devastating to his father. Joe had six children (two boys and four girls), four step-children, 12 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

Burial-at-Sea Memorial Services

If approved by the Washington State Ferry Service, burial-at-sea memorial services are free but subject to the ferry captain’s final discretion due to weather or unforeseen operational issues. Cancelled services may be moved to another vessel or rescheduled. Advanced reservations are required, and memorials are permitted on six routes only: IMG_2884 (2)

  • Seattle/Bremerton
  • Seattle/Bainbridge
  • Edmonds/Kingston
  • Mukilteo/Clinton
  • Anacortes/Friday Harbor/Orcas
  • Port Townsend/Coupeville

Permissible times are during non-peak hours only:

  • Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday/Sunday, prior to 10 a.m.

Ashes must be contained in so-called “journey urns” which dissolve quickly after being dropped in the water.

Reflections

Memorial ceremonies call us, compel us, to reflect upon our own mortality. Each person who participated in or witnessed the Doyon burial-at-sea had his/her own memories and thoughts about the deceased father and son, life, and death. I did not know the Doyons, but here are my personal thoughts, brought up from the deep to the surface of me by this burial-at-sea.

First, Joe’s military service. I am immensely grateful to Joe and his generation. Without their values and fortitude, we Americas probably would now be speaking German or Japanese. Joe was a veteran who served with honor and survived D-Day. And as Jose N. Harris wrote, “A Veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, their life.” And as Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And as Raelynn Ricarte of Hood River, Oregon, who lost her son, a Marine Corps Captain, says, “Be an American worth dying for.” The Doyon family lost such a man—Joe. I bugle for such men and women. IMG_4135

Second, Joe’s disappearance. Through cremation, the major parts of the bodies of Joe and Paul were combusted, vaporized, and oxidized. Their ashes (mostly pulverized bone fragments) have now been separated, mixed and scattered in 3-D salt water. Their particles may someday settle to the sea bottom, or circulate in the North Pacific gyre, or be taken up into the atmosphere and fall again in the rain on a distant continent or ocean, circulating here and there around the globe throughout the ages. At various times in various places, their particles probably will be chemically broken down into their inherent molecules and even reformed into other compounds. By choice, Joe’s and Paul’s bodies are no more, vanished without trace, except in memories and images. “Let me go” was Joe’s last message, expressed in the program at his funeral service in Portland last fall. Last Saturday, his and Paul’s ashes blended with nature.

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Dale and Michelle Doyon hold Dale’s father’s ashes in the biodegradable urn as the ferry, Spokane, approaches the Edmonds landing

Third, Joe’s life lessons for me—the afterlife. Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). God said to Adam, “…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:19). But wait—the assemblages of organic matter that were identified as Joe and Paul are disintegrated, lost, gone. And my body, also, will be cremated. But wait again—Joe left his memoirs. Was he a believer? I don’t know. But it’s clear that Joe pondered such things in his heart. There is a saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” In other words (according to the saying), when under extreme stress, all people believe in, hope for, even call upon and appeal to a higher power. Joe certainly had been in the line of fire. How did it form him or change him, spiritually? Perhaps his memoirs will tell us.

But wait yet again—Joe is gone. I will follow, but for now, I’m still here, still vertical, still thinking, feeling, and kicking, “Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive,” as the Bee Gees sing. Is death the end of me? C.S. Lewis said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Ah! Despite cremation and even burial-at-sea, our distinct, individual identities, our being, are preserved.

Change is the only constant in life, said Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And Lord Alfred Tennyson writes in his poem, The Brook, about how the water keeps on flowing after we are gone. The brook is the narrator:

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.

“Change…a season…a time…heaven…forever…” The tide comes in and goes out. Day changes to night, and winter passes into spring. Years turn into eons. Millions multiply into billions, and so on. We die, and life goes on without us. But no, ultimately, the brook also will not survive. Scientists say that Earth itself will be consumed by the expanding Sun. The Sun, too, will die. The whole Milky Way Galaxy will be swallowed by a Black Hole. Everything—an atom, a toothpick, an aircraft carrier, a solar system, a galaxy—has a life cycle. Perhaps even a Black Hole. Perhaps even our entire universe. But, by definition, not Heaven. There dwells the Absolute, the Infinite, the great I AM, in Eternity. Endless time. No more cycles. Everlasting life in love, peace and joy. Justice—the triumph of Good. The promised ideal, made possible only by Grace.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

In his song, “Gotta Serve Somebody,” Bob Dylan sings:

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“Laughing Jesus” by Segura

“You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls…

“You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

“You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalms 53:1). Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6). No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44). In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:2-3). Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). Then he [one of the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (I Corinthians 15:52,55).

Photos are courtesy of the Doyon family. Please click on any photo below to enlarge it.

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“Taps” for Laurence Joseph Mensing (70), Career Army Specialist

Posted by glennled on February 22, 2019

 

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Once in awhile, a memorial service stands out as special among the many others at which I have sounded “Taps” during the past 10 years for a deceased veteran and his family and friends. Such was the case on Sunday, 10 February at Purdy & Walters Funeral Home at Floral Hills in Lynnwood.

It was between snowstorms that we gathered in the chapel at 1 p.m. to remember and honor Laurence Joseph (“Larry Joe”) Mensing, who passed away in Mountlake Terrace on 21 January 2019. His son, Joe, had contacted me through Bugle Across America (BAA) for “Taps.” The officant was Anne Jenny, herself a veteran. Two of Larry Joe’s younger brothers and a niece spoke about his important impacts upon their lives. Their IMG_2701testimonies were emotional, even tearful. He was clearly adored and honored by his family and friends. One brother, with choked, cracking voice, said Larry Joe was his best friend and talked about how the Army had changed his older brother into a dignified gentleman. Another brother, pounding the podium and mourning the loss, said that all his life, he wanted to be just like Larry Joe. The niece said Larry Joe was known for pranks and teasing, and from a young age, she was always certain that he loved her.

Born and raised in Montana, Specialist (SPC) Mensing had joined the Army in 1968 and served almost 24 years. Afterwards, he was an active member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He met his wife, Yoko Makishi, while stationed at Fort Buckner, Okinawa. They were married 45 years and had four children and six grandchildren. She preceded him in death. “After retiring,” reads the program, “more than anything ‘G-PA’ ala ‘Pa Pa’ loved spending time with family and friends.” He was the family leader. IMG_2720

The Army Honor Guard consisted of 9 soldiers; I had never seen so many at such a ceremony. They fired the three-volley rifle salute, and as six of them held the flag level above the casket, I sounded “Taps” on my beautiful Getzen bugle with the BAA engraving on the bell (see my blog post of 4 May 2015).

Later, as I watched the audience file out of the chapel, there were lots of red eyes and wet cheeks. They could not hold back. He was that beloved. On leaving, I went up to Joe, who held the flag in his arms. We shook hands, and I thanked him for the honor and privilege of sounding “Taps.” Like the others, his eyes were wet and red. RIP, Larry Joe. You were Special.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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Who Was Arthur F. Church?

Posted by glennled on February 5, 2019

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A bugler’s headstone among the 5,000 graves in Evergreen-Washelli’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Seattle, including seven Medal of Honor recipients

 

For seven years (2011-17), I always stood in one spot to sound “Taps” at the annual Wreaths Across America (WAA) ceremony, held each December at Evergreen-Washelli’s Veterans Cemetery in north Seattle. That one spot is among about 5,000 veterans’ graves. It’s right next to one gravestone that had become quite special to me. I had developed a fond image of the man buried there. But this year, the ceremony was moved farther west within the cemetery (please see my blog post of 15 January 2019). I missed my old spot near my departed comrade from “Auld Lang Syne” (old times gone by). I knew his name but not his story.

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WWI U.S. Army recruitment poster for the horse cavalry

I first sounded “Taps” at the WAA ceremony on 10 December 2011. Prior to the ceremony, as the Honor Guard (rifle team) of VFW Post 1040 lined up along the sidewalk leading uphill to the Chimes Tower, I searched nearby among the hundreds of gravestones for a spot to stand. It’s important to be close to them but not so close that the ejected shell casings might hit you. Also, you want to be visible by the ceremony’s participants and audience.

I made my choice, positioned myself there, and waited for my cue. During the ceremony, I started to read the round-top gravestones nearby. To my left, I saw this inscription: “Arthur F. Church, Idaho, Bugler…”

Imagine that—how rare, how unusual! In my life, I’ve learned to pay close attention to such coincidences. Immediately, I was curious. Churchwas he a Christian believer? Idahosince 1851, when the first settlers built cabins on Alki Point, hundreds of thousands of people, including me, have moved to Seattle from everywhere. Born 28 October 1889America entered WWI in April 1917, when he was 27. Died 10 January 1945only four months afterwards came WWII’s Victory-in-Europe (V-E) Day. He was only 55 when he died. Had he been wounded in the war? Buglers were special targets; kill a bugler, and you disrupt your enemy’s communications. And there I was, 66 years later at age 71, standing near his marker, near his grave, near his remains, waiting to sound “Taps” at a ceremony meant to honor all those like him, who served.

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Glenn Ledbetter sounds “Taps” near headstone of Arthur F. Church, Bugler, in Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Evergreen Washelli, 2012

So, every time I’ve played “Taps” at any subsequent military ceremony near the Chimes Tower, that’s where I’ve always stood—next to Arthur. And lately, I’ve begun to ponder—Who was Arthur F. Church, Idaho, Bugler, 109th Infantry, 28th Division?

After much searching on the internet, I learned a lot about him. I read about the regiment and the division, his active duty in the military, his family including two brothers, one sister, and six half-siblings, his two wives but no children, his work, his troubles with narcotics and the law, his early death, and more. Let me focus on bugling because that’s what we have in common.

I had imagined that he might have been a career musician, perhaps even playing cornet in a military band. But it appears that Arthur was drafted into the Army toward the end of WWI and served only one year. He enlisted on 24 May 1918, and was discharged on 20 May 1919. The Armistice (cease fire agreement) that ended WWI was signed on 11 November 1918. He already was a married man. He had married Florence Strike in Wallace, Idaho on 2 April 1917. Did he play a brass instrument before entering the service? I don’t know. In any case, the Army made him a bugler, and apparently, that’s all the bugling he ever did.

Census records in 1920 and 1930 indicate that after the war, he lived as a lodger in Seattle and worked as a miner and a hook tender in the regrading industry. Other public records describe him thus at age 34: height 5’6″, weight 144 lbs, dark brown hair, brown eyes, medium build, ruddy complexion, with gold-crowned, upper left molar teeth and scars on the back of his head, right hand, and right thigh. Arthur seems to have had a “hard-knock life,” as the song goes in the musical, Annie.

Did he serve in Europe? Was he ever in combat? Did he ever sound bugle calls in battle—“To Arms, Charge, Retreat, Commence Firing, Cease Firing,” and more?  Or did he, like me, sound only those used in the daily routine and at ceremonies—“Reveille, Mess, Sick, School, Church, Assembly, Drill, Dress Parade, To the Color, Officers’ Call, Adjutants’ Call, Tattoo, Taps, Funeral March,” and more? Either way, it was important. As the soldiers said, “How else would we all know when to wake up and go to chow?”

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Bugle that sounded end of WWI, courtesy of National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

There is a book that covers all the calls that every 1918 U.S. military bugler had to know. It’s by V.F. Safranek and was published in 1918 in New York by Carl Fischer, 158 pages. It’s entitled, Complete Instructive Manual for Bugle, Trumpet and Drum. Now we know what Arthur F. Church, Bugler, knew.

In addition, I own two other excellent bugle call books:

  • 67 Bugle Calls As Practiced in the Army and Navy of the United States, New Edition published by Carl Fischer in 1998. It is based upon John Philip Sousa’s A Book of Instruction for the Field Trumpet [Bugle] and Drum, also published by Carl Fischer in 1886.
  • Infantry Bugle Calls of the American Civil War, authored by George Rabbai and published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc. in 1998. Forty-nine bugle calls are included, as well as narration, spoken commands, and anecdotes and stories from the accounts of infantry soldiers.
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American WWI buglers, including Leo Foster (right)

Arthur’s father is buried in Port Townsend, WA. His mother, older brother, and at least three of his half-siblings are buried at Evergreen-Washelli.

On 4 September 1945, Evergreen-Washelli applied for a military, upright marble headstone for Arthur. It was approved, shipped, and installed amongst his fellow veterans, as shown in the accompanying photos. Why does the inscription reference the state of Idaho? It might just be a clerical error because his Company D, 109th Regiment, 28th Division was neither created nor stationed in Idaho. They’re out of Pennsylvania. Neither was Arthur born in Idaho; he was born in South Dakota. But perhaps it was simply because Arthur probably was living with his bride in Idaho when he was drafted.

The next time I sound “Taps” near the Chimes Tower in Veterans Memorial Cemetery, I’ll again stand next to Arthur F. Church, whose gravestone bears the cross above his name.

Let me express my gratitude to Mary Ann Fuller, my primary information source, and to Karen Sipe for additional information presented in this article. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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