All is well, safely rest’ 

On the occasion of Taps’ 150th anniversary (July 16, 2012), the origin of America’s most recognizable bugle call was sounded by many buglers. 

Almost 20 times a day at Arlington National Cemetery, a military ritual occurs that is both familiar and moving. An escort of honor comes to attention and presents arms. A firing party conducts a salute of three volleys. After the briefest of moments, a bugle call sounds. The flag held by members of the honor guard is then folded into a triangle reminiscent of a cocked hat from the American Revolution, and presented  to the veteran’s next of kin as an expression of gratitude from a grateful nation. 

Taps is that bugle call. It may be the most performed piece of music in America, played every day in virtually every corner of the country. 

Composed for the bugle and unique to the U.S. military, Taps is sounded at funerals, wreath-layings and memorial services. Its plain but haunting melody consists of just 24 notes. And is usually recognized within the first three. With four different tones and lasting less than a minute, Taps has the power to evoke emotion from the most battle hardened warrior. The military’s only bugle call played slowly throughout, it has the dual purpose of signaling the day’s end and serving as musical honors to servicemembers who have died. 

Like “The Star-Spangled Banner”, Taps was born during a war, but its origin has been clouded by competing accounts. Until the Civil War, the infantry bugle call for “lights out” was To Extinguish Lights, found in most U.S. military manuals. Like most infantry calls, Lights was copied note for note from French military manuals. But Union General Daniel Butterfield changed the evening signal music for his brigade in July 1862. 

                                           Learn more about Taps’ history at www.tapsbugler.com .

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