The service was over. The drive to the cemetery was brief. We stood at the graveside to lay to rest a man who was dear to our hearts. A Navy man, we honored him with a military funeral. The young men in full dress uniforms stood discretely in the background while we commended our loved one into the hands of the Lord. Then, they moved forward, stepping in time, to fold and place the flag in the hands of his widow. The casket was lowered into the fresh-turned earth, 21 guns saluted his life, and the bugle began to play. We stood in silence as the pure, clear notes of Taps floated up, up, and over the live oaks.
According to Jari Villanueva at the Taps Bugler website, Taps began as a revision of the bugle call for Lights Out played at the end of the soldier’s day. General Daniel Butterfield felt the tune was too formal, and in July of 1862, he worked with his bugler to change the notes more to his liking. When those haunting notes sounded over the fields, the buglers in other units liked it so much they began to play the new tune as well. In 1891, the U.S. Army officially adopted the new tune, making Taps the official bugle call for military funerals. There is a stained glass window commemorating the first sounding of Taps at a military funeral in The Chapel of the Centurion at Fort Monroe, Virginia.
Few melodies have the power to move the human heart as deeply as the sound of Taps being played by bugle as evening approaches. It is a beautiful tune, made the more meaningful when you know the words:
Day is done,
Gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Too often, we let the worries of this world rob us of our peace. When the lights go out, the troubles of the day come crowding in, leaving little room for sleep, and night is not our friend. Taps is a gentle reminder to trust that no matter what may happen to us in this life, God is in charge, and will turn it into something good. What better way to end the day, to end a life, than to lay yourself down with the blessed assurance that you can rest easy, knowing that all is well and God is nigh?
This Memorial Day, take a moment at 3:00 p.m. to remember our fallen military heroes, and in the silence of your own heart, let the familiar tune of Taps sing a lullaby for your soul, and give you God’s peace. Have a blessed Memorial Day!
Pastor Barb <><
I will both lie down, and sleep in peace; for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety. Psalm 4:8