We hold a lot of tunes dear because of their complex and moving melodies and/or chord arrangements. Taps isn't one of those. In fact, as far as I know, there are no chords arranged for the song. I've never heard it played on anything but a bugle/trumpet, for that matter. Far from complex, it's written entirely in the harmonic triad of the horn's fundamental tone, a fact that allows it to be performed on any bugle or trumpet with no valve movement at all.
Simplicity to the extreme.
And yet Taps, for such a simple song, is one of the most touching pieces I've ever heard. It closes out a service member's day, signaling the end of a long period of duty to the nation and, in some cases, a sprint to the room to avoid being written up.
I admit, I have first-hand knowledge of all of that. Also have first-hand knowledge of how the peal of Taps echoes through the trees and assembled hearts and souls at a military funeral, and that one I sincerely hope you never have to experience.
Today being the special day of remembrance, though, I can't help wading through the feelings once again. So many have given their lives in defense of the nation. I recall my time as Casualty Assistance Officer for the kid from Puyallup, WA, whose parents had been disagreeing for so long they couldn't even agree on how to lay their son to rest--we ended up scattering his ashes over Mt. Rainier for one and then burying the urn in a military cemetery for the other.
I recall classmates. I recall friends.
Today is their day.
This blog isn't long enough to list them all, nor is the factual portion of my memory, so I'll shorten the remembrances here to my classmates who fell in combat:
R.I.P., Lt. Col. Paul Finken, killed in 2006 in Iraq
R.I.P., Lt. Col. James Walton, killed in 2008 in Afghanistan
Be thou at peace.