Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Posts Tagged ‘veterans’

“Taps” for Skyline’s Annual Memorial Walk in Seattle, Honoring Veterans

Posted by glennled on November 10, 2016

img_4385

Skyline at First Hill is a Presbyterian retirement community in downtown Seattle near St. James Cathedral and Harborview Hospital. Between its two wings, one for independent living (Skyline Towers) and the other for assisted living (Skyline Terraces), is a courtyard. That’s where I stood in the rain on 2 November to sound “Taps” on my Getzen bugle after the responsive reading of “We Remember Them” by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer, which is found in the Jewish Prayer Book (please see http://hmd.org.uk/resources/poetry/we-remember-them-sylvan-kamens-rabbi-jack-riemer). Then “Taps” closed the second annual “Skyline Memorial Walk” ceremony hosted by Skyline’s chaplain, The Reverend Elizabeth Graham.

img_4393Earlier, the residents and staff of Skyline had been invited to submit the names of veterans and others whom they wished to be remembered in advance of Veterans Day, 11 November. Their names—about 200—were read aloud, interspersed with periodic bell ringing, before the audience. Twenty, mostly elderly people gathered in the Madrona Community Room: two men, 18 women, silent in their memories of their dear veterans of WWI, WWII, and every conflict since, and others.

The names were then written on individual placards staked into the fertile soil in the planters in the courtyard, where they remained for a week so that the residents, staff and guests could walk among them. img_4419

Isn’t it amazing? In place after place across the nation, around the world, year after year, our veterans are honored. The lowest, the highest, it matters not. To paraphrase a famous saying, when you put on the military uniform, whether on active duty, retired, or national guard or reserve, you write a blank check at that point in your life, made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including your life.” Engraved on my bugle is a citation of the Biblical verse, John 15:13. We honor such men and women.

Rev. Graham found me through my membership in Bugles Across America (please see http://www.buglesacrossamerica.org/ and my post of 4 May 2015). I’m glad she did. I’m glad I played cornet through high school and college. I’m glad I teach private trumpet lessons. I’m glad I teach beginning brass at Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell. I’m glad I play trumpet in the Husky Alumni Band. I’m glad I play in the Alderwood Community Church Orchestra in Lynnwood. I’m glad I’m the VFW Post 1040 Bugler. All these things enable me to sound “Taps” for veterans every chance I get—it’s my honor, and I’m grateful. Lucky me.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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“Taps” for WWII Navy Veteran at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent

Posted by glennled on February 5, 2013

Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, WA, view of Mt. Rainier

Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, WA, view of Mt. Rainier

As of now, I have played “Taps” 50 times at various veterans’ memorials and funerals in the Greater Seattle area. The latest veteran so honored was Richard Louis Larson (1927-2013), whose cremated remains were inurned at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent on 2 February.

A U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, Richard was renown for his life-long, kind service of others. After he heard me sound “Taps” at a Veterans Day ceremony, he told me he had been a bugler aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Shangri-La (CV-38), where he served from 1945-48 while I was a boy in Texas. According to his memorial service program, Richard saw the first jet airplanes launch from and land on a carrier deck. When that ship crossed the equator, he entered King Neptune’s Realm and

USS Shangri-La (CV-38) underway in the Pacific, crew paraded on flight deck, 17 August 1945, just after V-J Day. U.S. Navy photo.

USS Shangri-La (CV-38) underway in the Pacific, crew paraded on flight deck, 17 August 1946, almost exactly one year after V-J Day. U.S. Navy photo.

was transformed through an old Navy tradition from a pollywood to a shellback. I later learned from Brian Seguin, a fellow VFW and American Legion member with Richard, that in 1946, he participated in Operations Crossroads, during which atomic bombs were tested at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. In September 2011, Brian escorted Richard on his Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. (see www.honorflight.org).  That’s when Brian learned that Richard carried a small Bible, given to him by his parents when he entered the Navy at age ~17.

Richard also was a talented poet and musician. He played cornet, trombone, baritone, and drums in Salvation Army bands. For 35 years, his father had been a chaplain for the Salvation Army men’s service department for alcoholics, helping men rebuild their lives. Richard met Lillian at a Salvation Army camp, and they were married 62 years. Richard often volunteered for the Salvation Army’s Emergency Canteens. And he loved to attend Salvation Army band concerts (see my blog post of 3 June 2012).

He had many more laudable qualities and accomplishments than I have mentioned here—he was special, a man of deep Christian faith and practice, a servant of others. It is blessing to me to sound “Taps” for such men.

Please click on either photo to enlarge it.

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“Echo Taps” on Veterans Day 2012—the 150th Anniversary Year of its Composition

Posted by glennled on November 19, 2012

Taps, original painting by Sidney E. King on display at Berkeley Plantation

In 1862, when Daniel Adams Butterfield composed “Taps” during the Civil War, there was no Veterans Day. A New Yorker, he was then a Brigadier General and later a Major General in the Union Army. Fifty-six years later in 1918, this national holiday was established (first as Armistice Day) after the end of World War I. Its name was changed to Veterans Day after World War II and is now celebrated annually on 11 November in honor of all American veterans. This year is the 150th anniversary year of “Taps,” the most famous of all American bugle calls. Thus, it came to pass that Richard Haydis and I sounded “Echo Taps” to close the memorial ceremony at Veterans Park in Lynnwood on a rainy Sunday, 11 November 2012.

Haydis is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, and I am a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam era. VFW Post 1040 (see http://vfw1040.org/) hosted the ceremony, where the featured speaker was Michael G. Reagan, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, internationally renown artist and leader of the Fallen Heroes Project (see my post of 19 November 2011, and www.fallenheroesproject.org). The ceremony featured the NW Junior Pipe Band (see www.mwjbp.org) and

Michael G. Reagan, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Fallen Heroes Project

Ray Colby, VFW Post 1040 Piper and a U.S. Navy veteran. Cub Scout Pack 331 placed flags in the park and distributed the ceremony programs.During 2012, buglers throughout the nation participated in numerous ceremonies to commemorate the 150th anniversary of “Taps.” The prime event occurred on 22-24 June at Harrison Landing on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation along the James River, southeast of Richmond, Virginia (see www.taps150.org). This was the birthplace of America’s Song of Remembrance.

In late June, 1862, after the Seven Days Battles, the Army of the Potomac recuperated at Harrison Landing. Butterfield himself had been wounded.  It is said of Oliver Willcox Norton, bugler of Butterfield’s Brigade, that Butterfield called him to his tent to work on a new bugle call until, as Butterfield put it, he got it smooth, melodious, and musical, suited his ear and taste. Norton was the first to sound “Taps” as we now know it in early July.  Later, in 1898, Norton wrote a letter recalling the incident:

Taps, Butterfield and Norton

“…One day, soon after the seven days battles on the Peninsular, when the Army of the Potomac was lying in camp at Harrison’s Landing, General Daniel Butterfield, then commanding our Brigade, sent for me, and showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades, asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. I think no general order was issued from army headquarters authorizing the substitution of this for the regulation call, but as each brigade commander exercised his own discretion in such minor matters, the call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac. I have been told that it was carried to the Western Armies by the 11th and 12th Corps, when they went to Chattanooga in the fall of 1863, and rapidly made its way through those armies. I did not presume to question General Butterfield at the time, but from the manner in which the call was given to me, I have no doubt he composed it in his tent at Harrison s Landing…

For a detailed account of the composition of “Taps”, please see “24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions,” by Jari A. Villanueva, at www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html.

Taps Monument prior to 2012 renovation, Berkeley Plantation

The Virginia Department of the American Legion erected a monument dedicated to “Taps” on a knoll where General Butterfield’s tent stood in July 1862. This is the only such monument in the country. There is a bronze statue of Butterfield in Sakura Park on Claremont Avenue in Manhattan, not far from Grant’s Tomb. And Butterfield is buried at West Point, although he attended Union College (Class of 1849) in Schenectady, not the U.S. Military Academy (see www.union.edu/news/stories/2012/05/sounding-a-solemn-note-taps-turns-150.php).

Incidentally, the call is named “Taps” because at the end of the call, a drummer would play three distinct drum taps at four-count intervals. And as popular and beautiful as it is, “Echo Taps” is not an official bugle call of the U.S. military. Officially, “Taps” is to be sounded by a single bugle.

Photos of the 2012 Lynnwood ceremony are by Andy Dingman. Please click on any image to enlarge it.

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Veterans Lead Independence Day Parade in Edmonds on Glorious 4th

Posted by glennled on July 4, 2012

Glenn Ledbetter, Vietnam War Vet, Edmonds Independence Day Parade, 2012. The bugle was a gift from a retired Air Force pilot who purchased it in England.

I’m sure some people in this great nation had as much fun as I did on this Independence Day 2012, but did they get to march in the parade in a small, All-American city as I did in Edmonds, Washington today? More didn’t than did. The thousands of people lining the streets stood, clapped, cheered, and waved minature American flags. My wife took this picture of the Post Bugler, VFW Post 1040, Lynnwood—me—on a perfectly gorgeous day on a glorious 4th. “God Bless America!”

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“Taps” for King County Veterans Who Were Buried Without Military Funeral Honors

Posted by glennled on January 5, 2012

WAARNG Honor Guard reads the deceased veterans' names

Who’s ever heard of the VMT Program? Very few. There’s been almost no news coverage. Yet, as Post Bugler for VFW Post 1040 in Lynnwood, I have played “Taps” three times in the past three weeks for almost 600 veterans who recently died in King County, Washington—twice at ceremonies at Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Evergreen Washelli and once at Acacia Memorial Park in north Seattle. And that’s going to continue. What’s this all about?

All veterans are eligible for military funeral honors, but most survivors do not request them. Before 2010 in Washington state, when the moment for honors had passed, that was that. But now, tribute is later paid to them in absentia by the the Washington Army National Guard (WAARNG) through its Veterans Memorial Tribute Program (VMTP). Now, none are forgotten.

"Ready" to fire three volleys, VFW Post 1040 Firing Squad

The Honor Guard Program of the Army National Guard in Washington and 7 other states is headed by William A. (Bill) Graham, Jr., Regional Director and State Coordinator, located in Camp Murray near Ft. Lewis. When a person dies in Washington, he says, the funeral director typically submits a death worksheet to the Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics. On the worksheet, Question #12 asks whether the deceased was a veteran. Quarterly, the state forwards a list of all such veterans to the WAARNG which then checks this list against a national database of all veterans who already have been accorded military honors. It turns out that about 65% of eligible veterans do not receive military funeral honors. The VMTP remedies this.

Presenting the flag

WAARNG is the first in the nation to institute this tribute program. When VMTP first started in 2010, the state sent them data for 2008, 2009, and 2010 (to date). The 2008 and 2009 batches contained about 14,000 names each!

Mr. Graham says the goal is to furnish an Honor Guard for these mass committal services in all 39 counties of the state. The Honor Guard renders military funeral honors en masse for each new set of deceased veterans. Most are concentrated in King County. For a KREM-TV report on a memorial service held last October in Medical Lake in Spokane County, see http://www.krem.com/news/local/Tribute-program-honors-veterans-gaining-local-support-132498463.html.

With gratitude, respect and honor, the final salute

At a typically brief tribute ceremony, the names of the deceased vets are read aloud, a bell is rung, a prayer is offered, a poem is read, and the nation’s deep gratitude is expressed. In north King County, this is done twice a month by WAARNG’s Bellingham unit which usually reads about 200 new names each time—at Evergreen Washelli on the first Tuesday and at Acacia on the third Tuesday of each month. VFW Post 1040 furnishes the firing squad and the bugler—me, playing my Super Olds cornet, serial number 133097 with my Bach 8C mouthpiece. Similar honors are rendered monthly in south King County. Mr. Graham says that in less populous counties, the tribute ceremony would be rendered less frequently, depending upon the need. The public is welcome to attend.

Photos by Richard Larson at Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Evergreen Washelli; click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

 

WE REMEMBER THEM [excerpt]

At the rising of the sun and at its going down

We remember them…

As long as we live, they too will live;

for they are now a part of us

as we remember them.

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“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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