Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Posts Tagged ‘Medal of Honor’

“Taps” for Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Posted by glennled on December 16, 2011

Last Saturday at 8:45 a.m., the 2nd Annual Wreath Laying ceremony was held in the Chimes Tower at Evergreen Washelli’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery in north Seattle. On the second Saturday of every December, similar ceremonies are conducted at Arlington National Cemetery, other veterans cemeteries in all 50 states, and veteran’s burial grounds around the globe. The Navy Wives Clubs of America led the volunteers who made this event happen here. See www.wreaths-across-amercia.org for a description of the national organization and event.

The Navy provided the color guard, and VFW Post 1040 of Lynnwood furnished the rifle team and bugler—me! You can see a video of the event and hear “Taps” at King-5 TV News,http://www.king5.com/news/cities/seattle/Holiday-wreaths-placed–135386858.html . The volunteers placed 100 wreaths on veterans graves here. There are six Medal of Honor and two Silver Star recipients buried at Evergreen Washelli (see my posts of 2 and 19 July 2011).

All but three of the photos below are courtesy of the Navy Wives Clubs of America. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

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“Echo Taps” for Medal of Honor Ceremony

Posted by glennled on July 19, 2011

Navy MoH, 1861; awarded to Navy, Marines & Coast Guard

Of the millions of men and women who have served in the United States military, including me,

Army MoH, 1862

only3,457 have received the Medal of Honor. Six are buried at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park on Hwy 99 in north Seattle.

These men, plus a Silver Star recipient, were honored on 16 July at a special ceremony, as reported in my blog post below (2 July). The ceremony featured the unveiling of seven large, permanent, granite markers, engraved with their individual stories of heroism. In August, these are to be placed at the respective graves, so that visitors may read them on site.

Here are some interesting facts about the Medal of Honor, extracted from the website of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (see http://www.cmohs.org/). The first medal was awarded in 1863, during the Civil War. During that war, in which there were about 625,000 deaths, 1,522 Medals of Honor were awarded. During the Korean War, 136 medals were awarded, and 248 were presented during the Vietnam War. Others: WWI (119); WWII (466); Iraq (4); and Afghanistan (5).

At last Saturday’s event, at least two local TV stations had cameras present and carried stories on the evening news. Please watch the video

Air Force created as separate military branch, 1947; distinct design of AF MoH authorized, 1956; AF design adopted, 1965

(1:48) from KOMO-TV for the excellent report, “Heroes honored: ‘They did things I can’t even imagine doing’.” See www.komonews.com/news/local/125696063.html. The editing and presentation are outstanding. Included among the scenes is one brief clip of me playing “Taps” shortly before the Retiring of the Colors.

As the audience of about 100 family and friends, many with raincoats, hats and umbrellas on this cool morning, slowly arrived, the Washington Letter Carriers’ Band played a 30-minute opening concert. Reportedly, this band is the oldest of its kind in the state, founded in the late 19th century.

Seattle’s soft rain fell upon us in the beginning and quit about mid-way through the ceremony. As the keynote speaker, MG James M. Collins, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.), summarized each man’s story, he asked the family and friends of each hero to stand for recognition and honor. Scott Sheehan, General Manager of Evergreen Washelli, said that as a result of this event, another person who is

Glenn (right) sounds "Echo Taps" near firing squad - Photo by Janelle Squires

buried there has been identified as a recipient of the Silver Star and will also be honored with a marker.

Then a firing squad of seven fired three volleys. At the command, “Present Arms,”  I commenced sounding “Echo Taps” while standing nearby. Roy Pollock, lead trumpeter of the WLC Band and my fellow member in the Husky Alumni Band, played the echo from near a large tree across the open field. 

Families lay flowers on markers of the seven valiant men - Photo by Evergreen Washelli

Super Olds cornet (1954) - Photo by Janelle Squires

 

Roy Pollock waits (beneath tree) to sound echo in "Echo Taps" - Photo by Janelle Squires

 

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Playing “Taps” for Medal of Honor Recipients at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle on 16 July

Posted by glennled on July 2, 2011

Photo by Thad Westhusing, http://www.thadsworld.net

Until this year, I did not realize that Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park is the final resting place for one Silver Star and six Medal of Honor recipients. The Silver Star recipient and two of the Medal of Honor recipients fought in Vietnam. Another two Medal of Honor recipents fought in World War II, and the other two fought in the Spanish/American War. These wars span 77 years, from 1898 to 1975.

I am so lucky. Just before the conclusion of a special ceremony for the public on Saturday, 16 July, I get to play “Taps” to honor these very special men. It is said that playing “Taps” is the most sacred duty of a bugler. I feel it. The last time I felt it, I was in high school when I played “Taps” at a ceremony in my home town, Sinton, Texas, on either Memorial Day or Veterans Day. I want to feel it again.

The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. with a half-hour concert by the Washington Letter Carriers Band. Next comes the Parade of Colors at 11 a.m., followed by The National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, and Invocation. The speaker is Major General James (“Jimmy’) M. Collins, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.). The program concludes with a salute from members of the Washington Army National Guard, followed by “Echo Taps,” the Benediction, and the Retiring of the Colors at about noon.

To pay tribute to these fallen heroes and to thank them and their families for their selfless and courageous service to our country, Evergreen Washelli is creating a permanent marker which will tell each medal recipient’s heroic story. You are invited to attend the ceremony, witness the unveiling of their permanent memorials, visit their graves, read their stories, and see images of the medals received. Their names: Albanese, Horton, Leisy, Nakamura, Bloch, Fadden and Alakulppi.

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Taps, Sousa, and Tchaikovsky at Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Seattle on Memorial Day

Posted by glennled on June 3, 2011

Veterans Memorial Cemetery, photo by Thad Westhusing, http://www.thadsworld.net

Picture 5,000 white marble markers on the graves of veterans interred at Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in north Seattle on the grounds of the larger Evergreen Washelli Cemetery. Imagine at least 700 people gathered there for the 85th Annual Memorial Day Celebration. That’s what happened Monday, 30 May. “Ya shoulda been there”–such sights to see and sounds to hear! I especially enjoyed the prominent role of music in the celebration.

It began with a prelude concert by the 50-member Symphonic Wind Ensemble from Seattle Pacific University (SPU), conducted by Gerry Jon Marsh. Among the pieces they played was a patriotic march, a well-loved overture, and an uplifting medley of the anthems of the five military branches. First, John Philip Sousa’s magnum opus, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” stirred the crowd, as it always does. In fact, it is so popular that in 1987, Congress made it the National March of the United States.  As Sousa wrote in his autobiography, ” … Suddenly [while aboard ship returning from Europe to New York in 1896], I began to sense a rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain. Throughout the whole tense voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distant melody. I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached shore, I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed.”

Then came the 1812 Overture, written in 1880 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to commemorate Russia’s defense of Moscow against Napoleon’s advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino on 7 September 1812. At this battle, there were an estimated 100,000 casualties. Napoleon won a Pyrric victory and then captured Moscow, facing little resistance. The Russians had burned part of the city, and Napoleon’s army was weakened, its resources depleted and its supply lines overextended. Without winter stores, the army was forced to retreat. From mid-October through December, it faced several overwhelming obstacles on its long retreat:

Seattle American Legion Post 1 Commander Francis "Frank" Albin. Photo by Greg Gilbert, The Seattle Times

frigid temperatures, famine, harassing cossacks and Russian forces barring the retreat route. Napoleon abandoned the army in December. By the time it reached the relative safety of Poland, the Grande Armée was reduced to one-tenth its original size.

On 20 August 1882, seventy years after the battle, the overture debuted in Moscow in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Marsh says that Tschaikovsky opens the overture with the Russian hymn, “God Preserve Thy People,” and returns to it near the ending when the music depicts God’s intervention in the invasion, causing unprecedented severe winter weather to decimate Napoleon’s seemingly invincible French army.
 

The  SPU ensemble also played a medley of five military anthems in tribute to each branch and those who served in them: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Veterans in the crowd stood to the applause of the audience when their anthem was played.

The first Memorial Day ceremony at Evergreen Washelli (the Makah Indian word for west wind) occurred in 1927. Marsh says that the SPU ensemble has played at each of these ceremonies for more than 15 years. Students get class credit for doing so. They are required to perform community service once a school quarter, and this event satisfies that requirement for spring quarter. “They enjoy doing it,” he says. For more information about instrumental music at SPU, visit http://www.spu.edu/depts/fpa/music/mus_homepage.html. Since 1985, Marsh has also been the Musical Director of the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestras (see www.cyso.us/). In 1998, Marsh was inducted into the inaugural Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA) Hall of Fame.

Cooperman Rope Tension Drum, Civil War era

Also performing was the SPU Drum Corps, under the direction of Dan Adams, using authentic drums from

Cavalry bugler, Civil War Gold Proof, U.S. Mint

the Civil War era. These rope tension drums have calf skin drum heads, says Marsh. The Drum Corps was featured during the Parade of Colors. As a clinician, Adams has presented workshops on drumming of the Civil War. For more information on such drums, see www.cooperman.com/ropedrums/civilwar.htm.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, two SPU trumpeters played an echo version of  “Taps.” A history of “Taps” can be found at www.tapsbugler.com. For a complete history you can order “Twenty-Four Notes That Tap Deep Emotions—The Story of America’s Most Famous Bugle Call” by Jari Villanueva at www.nationalcivilwarbrassmusic.org/GiftShop. Next year, 2012, marks the 150th year since the composition of “Taps” during the Civil War in July, 1862.

On Saturday, 16 July, there will be a special ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery to honor the six Medal of Honor recipients who are interred at Evergreen Washelli (see www.washelli.com). They are Lewis Albanese, William C. Horton, Harry D. Fadden, William K. Nakamura, Robert R. Leisy, and Orville E. Bloch. On that day, I am honored to be scheduled to sound “Taps,” the most sacred duty of a bugler.

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