Saturday, May 27, 2006

TAPS: Reprise

Last year, about this time, I wrote a blog entry called TAPS. Given that the only thing the President is suggesting we do to ameliorate the current war situation is to "pray for peace" over the weekend, I thought I would dust off that post and repost it.

As regular readers of my posts will notice, I don't usually do this. But today and over the weekend, I think it is important to think more about the sacrifice of those who have died protecting our freedoms than the geopolitical and domestic trouble the current incarnation of war (Iraq attack etc...) has generated; particularly over the course of the tenure of the W, Rove and Co.

Incidentally, those of you who wish to do more than pray, there is a small and growing grass roots political action brewing that allows those of us who are waging the "war against war" to make a statement by exercising our First Amendment Rights. Without further ado, here's the original TAPS post:
Out on my AM run, I got to thinking, here we are, just over two weeks away from the Memorial Day Weekend. In my high school days, I lived in a town that actually had a parade - still does I'm sure - to mark the occasion. I played taps as the flag was lowered to half staff (here's a link for those of you unfamiliar with the tune).

Then, I was a hard core trumpet player. I practiced every day and my chops were good enough to get me to the double "c" in the upper register. I played in the symphonic band, the jazz/big band, in the pit orchestra for the various yearly musicals, and the marching band.

It was the marching band that I hated the most, mainly because of the hot uniforms we would put on regardless the weather - wool, dickeys, funky hats with feathers, spats...you know the look. We did earn one fateful trip to march down the main street in Disneyworld one year, but beyond that, the practice and rigor of marching was not all together my cup of tea.

Where I took the most pride and where I felt the most important as a musician and a trumpet player was at the tail end of the parade. All the town's folks gathered on the town green and all bands were assembled around the Fallen Heroes monument and the requisite plugged howitzer (which it seems like every town in our area had), and after the benedictions, the prayers and the first selectwoman said a few words, we usually played a hymn or the National Anthem which was always followed by a 21 gun salute ("ready, aim, fire" - 7 guns, usually M-16s - three reports) followed immediately by the playing of Taps.

I started as the echo. A more senior player did the up front report of taps. I followed, playing about 100 meters away using the middle school wall to get the full acoustical echo. When I was a senior, I graduated to playing the first report and another kid played the echo. I always got teary just after the last echo reverberated of the wall. Most everyone on the green walked back to their cars or to their home a little bit sad and who knows feeling what else.

For me, I was as proud as ever to be an American and realized how grateful I was that people were willing to put their lives on their line for our freedom. As they say, freedom isn't nor ever is free. But as we head into this somber time of Memorial Day, perhaps some of us should hang our heads a bit lower as the burden of responsibility for some recent military deaths hangs heavy around the necks of our leadership.

Me, I choose to look skyward, reach back to the deeper depths, and be thankful for those that have gone before and for me - From the real Minutemen (not the incarnation on the Mexican border) that fought the Redcoats back in the 1700s to the families that lost sons on both sides of the argument in the civil war, to the veterans of WW I and WWII that fought obvious tyrants, for the Marines, Air Force, Army, Navy, and the Coast Guard men and women who have lost their lives in the pursuit and protection of our lives and liberty, I give thanks.

As we move into another of America's heavily commercialized holidays, let us resolve to toss out the trappings, remember our fallen heroes and give thanks. May all our heroes rest in peace.
Cross posted at Bring it On and the Kommandos Project.

3 comments:

isabelita said...

'spike, my beloved spouse played trumpet in high school bands. In fact, I met him in high school band: I played clarinet. He was a senior, I was a sophomore. We were just talking about the annual Memorial Day Parade we marched in back in Perrysburg, Ohio, lo these many years ago. He also played taps, I'm sure1 (He played the flugel horn in the Ohio State Marching Band from 1968-1972.)
I don't remember feeling any patriotism during those horribly hot and itchy parades. Just wanted to avoid stepping in any horse shit!
Just funny we share a part of our high school days.

windspike said...

Isa,
Your husband was serious about the trumpet if he played in the OSU band. Those folks were amazing...and I'm not just saying that. I attended two other Big Ten schools...also with good marching bands.

Does he still play? I am now very into traditional Irish music playing my penny whistle at various locations on a regular basis - mainly just sessions at pubs, but that's not a bad way to go.

isabelita said...

'spike, he gets his chops whipped into shape once a year, and goes back to march and play in the band alumni game, which features hundreds of OSUMB vets, from recent grads to people in their 80's. Other than that event, no, he doesn't play.
He has lots of "black Irish" blood in him, and appreciates traditional Irish music, but hasn't got so much time to perform.