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The Story Behind the Bugler's TAPS
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The haunting melody, which we know as "Taps".

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky
All is well, Safely rest.
God is nigh.


Fading light
Dims the sight
And a star
Gems the sky
Gleaning bright
From afar, Drawing nigh,
Falls the night.


Thanks and praise
For our days,
Neath the sun
Neath the stars
Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.

A passionate student of music and the Civil War, Master Sgt. Jari Villanueva has sounded taps hundreds of times since joining the Air Force in 1985. Like many of his colleagues in the Ceremonial Brass, and similar units in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, he has been summoned to military funerals in several states over the years.

Taps came out of the Civil War, though the history of its origin is misty. Union Gen. Daniel Butterfield, camped with his brigade at Harrison's Landing, Va., in the summer of 1862, asked his bugler to try a new tune. The bugler, Oliver Wilcox Norton, did not know so at the time but the simple call Butterfield scratched on an envelope and asked him to sound came from an early version of "Tattoo," a bugle call used to alert troops to prepare for bedtime roll call. This particular "Tattoo" had gone out of use by the time of the Civil War.

"Butterfield knew the tune, however, from his days before the war as a colonel in the New York militia," says Villanueva. "It's the `Tattoo' by Winfield Scott, composed in1835, also known as the `Scott Tattoo.' The last five-and-a-half measures are distinctly taps."

According to Villanueva's research, Norton worked out the call with Butterfield, then sounded it in camp. "The music was beautiful on that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our brigade," Norton later wrote. "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."

Read the entire story of Taps, visit this link.

God Bless America

  • Be sure to see Senator John McCain's speech at Forrestal Lecture Series U.S. Naval Academy October 9, 2001 (Click Here)

  • Also, a letter home from an Ensign on the USS Winston Churchill

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