Drum Corps International
Bugles Across America

Bugles Across America

by Drum Corps International

In January of 2000, Congress passed a bill guaranteeing United States veterans a flag ceremony and the playing of "Taps" at their funerals. Due to a lack of available buglers, the military estimates they can supply only 20 percent of the necessary buglers for military funerals and therefore is often played from a recording over an electronic system.



Former Marine Corps gunnery sergeant Thomas Day did not like the idea of the families and friends of deceased veterans having to listen to a recorded bugle during funeral services, believing a recording was neither an appropriate nor noble send off for individuals who had served their country in the military. In November of 2000, he founded Bugles Across America, a non-profit organization.



Day is a former member of the Cavaliers and a co-founder of the Anaheim Kingsmen, Drum Corps International's very first World Champion corps in 1972. Providing "Taps" has become a personal passion of his. He has performed at more than a thousand ceremonies himself, on a bugle that is authenticated as being the bugle used at the funeral of United States President William McKinley in 1901.



Since the inception of Bugles Across America, thousands of buglers have signed up with the organization to be available to perform "Taps" on short notice. According to promotional literature for Bugles Across America, one young person even taught herself how to play "Taps" on a bugle so she could be available if called.



There is no charge for the service.



I've written about Bugles Across America a number of times in the past, but until last Saturday, I did not have the opportunity to see the organization in action. Tom Day personally came to my father's funeral to perform "Taps" and offer a three-round salute, in addition to presenting a Medal of Valor plaque, American flag and flag case to my mother and me. This would have pleased Dad greatly, being that he was a veteran of two wars and a member of the V.F.W. for more than 50 years, 37 of them as Service Officer.



It was also a great comfort to the family to have his service to his country recognized in such a fashion, helping to celebrate the accomplishments of his life. Mom and I were deeply touched and heartened.



Therefore, this is a great time to once again encourage all brass players to contact the organization and sign up to be available to perform "Taps" at the funerals of veterans. Please check out BuglesAcrossAmerica.org and sign up.



Since its founding in 2000, Bugles Across America has supplied buglers for more than 75,000 military funerals, with available bugler volunteers in all 50 states and overseas. However, there is always a need for more.



Bugler volunteers may be male or female. There is no age requirement, as long as the bugler can play "Taps" with ease and do honor to all involved with the service. Many members of Bugles Across America are high school students.



For those who wish to help the organization continue its efforts, whether or not they can play "Taps," there also are ways to support through tax-exempt donations and other contributions on the Bugles Across America Web site.



The organization has very little overhead, but there are still expenses incurred in promoting the mission and providing things such as American flags and the cases to hold the flags.



Please, if you play a brass instrument or can make a monetary contribution, check out BuglesAcrossAmerica.org.



Tom Day can be reached at 1824 S. Culyer Ave., Berwyn, IL 60402 or by e-mail at tomjday@sbcglobal.net.




Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International print and Web projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating.



As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.

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