Here’s a wonderful history of the playing of “Taps,” tracing its roots way back to before 1862 when it became the official final bugle call of every active-duty soldier’s evening. All is well. Safely rest. God is nigh. At most American military cemeteries today, where scores of vets might be buried daily, “Taps” is–believe it or not–automated. Yes, it is faked by a uniformed player holding the bugle to his lips (something akin to Beyonce’s excellent lip-syncing at Barack Obama’s second inauguration.). This isn’t as awful or as disappointing as it would seem. The sound quality is decent, and most of the mourners are staring at the flag-drapped casket anyway as they ponder this awe-inspiring soldier’s lullaby, now recognized as every American soldier’s ballad all around the world.
One tip: Ask all elderly vets in your family where their military discharge papers are because you don’t want to be searching through file cabinets in the hours after their deaths, or having phone conversations with military cemetery personnel that sound like this: “I don’t know his entry date. I’ve looked everywhere. He served in Korea…” Even if you consider yourself a non-militaristic sort of person, do not deprive yourself and your family of the beauty and the substantial savings of military burial. Here’s the official explanation of which vets are eligible. Those who have served since 1980, must have stayed in for at least 24 continuous months.