J.B.'s Journal: Taps

EAST TEXAS (KYTX) -- This year marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of the military tune
"Taps." In tonight's J.B.'s Journals, Sheriff J.B. Smith explains the history of this famous musical piece and how its meaning is still powerful today for East Texas veterans.

"To play Taps takes [requires] a lot of years experience," Troup High School Band Director Neil Smith said. "Have to have good tone quality, good articulation."

"Taps" was arranged in its present form in 1862, by Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield during the Civil War.

"He could not read music so Oliver Norton played it for him and Daniel Butterfield shortened and lengthened notes until it was accepted to his ear," Smith said.

Soon buglers on both sides of the Civil War were playing the music.

"It has 24 notes," Smith said. "It's the most emotional notes known in a bugle call."

There's no official words to the music but over the years numerous versions have been created, the first go to sleep.

"At the Citadel, Taps was played every night at 10," Gerry Klingmanm, Ret. Air Force Capt, said. "It meant to turn off the lights, go to bed."

Klingman said he still has an emotional response when he hears "Taps" played.

"It makes me think about the other soldiers who have fallen in the past, the buddies I knew, I've lost," he said. "It's always going to bring back memories of that person that you said goodbye to on that day."

In 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery all eyes were on the bugler as he played "Taps."

"He missed the sixth note, cracked it, easy to do," Smith said. "Most thought of it as a sob where he was heartbroken."

Today musicians like Smith donate their time to play "Taps" for veterans' funerals.

"It's an honor for me to play especially at funerals for our protectors of our country. I think Taps bugle call will last forever."

For CBS 19, I'm Sheriff J.B. Smith and that's my story.

On May 19, thousands of buglers are expected at Arlington National Cemetery to play Taps and to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the song's creation. If you would like a bugler to play Taps at a veterans' funeral contact Buglers Across America.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment