For two years now – at the same time every single evening, every single week – an otherwise typical neighborhood has been treated to something very special and transformed into something simultaneously somber and triumphant. For about two minutes each and every evening, everyone briefly forgets about the complications and complexities of their day to day lives and stops to listen to a song float simply and sweetly through the air. It’s a song everyone in the neighborhood knows – all the better for its repetition – and one tucked in the mind of every proud American.
For these past two years, one man has committed himself every night, rain or shine, to climb out on his balcony and play those simple and stately twenty-four notes we call ‘Taps’. This song, most known for its part in military funerals in the United States (it has been a military funeral standard since 1891), seems to stop time as neighbors distance themselves from the daily grind and reflect.
Taps has a special place in the hearts and minds of Americans. A familiar tune since childhood, it seems resound within each of us because of its presence in mass media, in television and movies, and (sadly) in our own personal experiences when those who have served our country pass on. The song stirs in us a sense of national pride springing from the good works done by the bravest Americans around the world while reminding us of the ultimate sacrifice paid by those same soldiers who seek to bring truth, justice, and liberty to the globe. The simplicity and beauty of the song are only enhanced by the sentimentality we attach to it.
The musician wants to remind everyone both of the beauty still in the world, as well as the danger and tragedy members of our armed forces come face to face with each and every day. War does not take a day off, and so neither does our resolute trumpeter. Whether tired or sick or overwhelmed, he refuses to forget the sacrifices made by our uniformed men and women and so he plays on to remind us all.
A true patriot, our trumpeter will not forget either the great aspirations of our country nor the great sacrifices made in order to see our designs through to their end. While the rest of the country is content to wear their red white and blue regalia when Independence Day rolls around, this lone musician has committed himself to remembering both the pride and the responsibility of what it means to be an American and to owe your freedom to countless dead American heroes. This musician may not be a hero himself, but he stands as a shining example in one American neighborhood about how we ought to conduct ourselves given the sacrifice of so many heroes before us.