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Author Topic: Where have all the bands and bugles gone?  (Read 488 times)

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Offline ChelemarTopic starter

Where have all the bands and bugles gone?
« on: May 31, 2010, 01:19:13 PM »
 This morning I crossed the street in front of my house like I do every year on Memorial Day. I live right across from the post office in my town. It’s a small town. We have no stop lights, only a few stop signs, and, well, most call it a one blink—blink once driving through and you missed it.
To the East of the Post Office is a Coal Miner Memorial. The town, founded by and named after a mine owner, is a dying thing. The Memorial gives tribute not only to the miners but also to that way of life that no longer exists for the vast majority of people who live here. The house I live in, a company "row" house, once a boss’s house, sits in its segmented patch of land and has the same basic set up as most other houses nearby. Like many of my neighbors, I am the fifth generation to live here, in this same house, as I type I can reach out and touch the space where my Grandmother passed away; she lay in her hospital bed while we gathered around her a little over ten years ago.
It is a town full of rich and vivid memories, stories, and history. On the West of the post office is another Memorial. This one is the United States Veteran of Foreign Wars Memorial. Every year, for as long as I can remember, the town has had services at the Memorial on this day. When I was small, we would decorate our bikes and ride in the parade. From the elementary school up the high hill to the Post Office we waved our flags and pedaled. Both sides of the street would be lined with people of all ages. Each holding a small flag and waving it back at us. Of course, we didn’t really understand. I didn’t understand why my father would put on the funny looking, smelly cloths and get a sad, yet strong look on his face as he too marched with other men who wore different, yet similar clothes and looks.
When a bit older, my cousins and I would march with the majorettes, twirling and presenting an honor at attention at the site. Fire trucks, ambulances, Military bands, high-school bands, and Vets from all around would march in the parades. Again the streets would be lined. Still a few years later in high school, we marched with ROTC; the parade would last an hour. The guns would present a dwindling gun salute, and I would cry as the bugler played Taps only to be answered by the muted call of the second bugle. I wasn’t the only one with tears. We would stand at attention when the Colors were presented and people would cover their heart, men would remove their hats, and we would sing along to our Country's anthem; then voices would raise as we recited the pledge of allegiance, hand still over heart.
Over the years the parades got smaller and smaller. The town's branch of the V.F.W closed as many active participants died and no one took their place.  Today, was a particularly sad Memorial Day for my family. My Uncle Ed, a Korean War Vet passed and was buried Tuesday. He never missed a Memorial Day. He led the parade for over fifty years. This year, there was no band, there were no majorettes, there were no fire trucks; there were no children on shiny bicycles. The decline of participation had been slow but steady over the years until one by one groups just ghosted away.  But worse that the lack of participation was the apathy of the crowd.  Hardy anyone sang the National Anthem; few covered their hearts...not one young person did. Yes, I could see everyone. There were few enough to see.
 Have we stopped teaching the younger generations gratitude? Have we stopped teaching them to give thanks to those who do what we can not do? Have we stopped teaching them that respecting the country, and flag is a good thing. Not worshiping it, but respecting it in all its imperfection and problems, it’s still our home. With all the problems that we have in the US, I wouldn’t change living here for anywhere else. Families work to fix what is wrong together, not kick the one who is down.
Five of my young cousins are in the service. All of them have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Some, more than once, and others are going back again. I couldn’t help but think of them while I stood there with my hand over my heart as I wondered… ‘What will your parades be like? You disserve majorettes, fire trucks, military bands and muted bugles."
When Danny, a Vet of the first Iraq war and Uncle Ed’s son, gave the Eulogy of the fallen, he made one promise to the people of the town, "As long as I am alive," he said, "I will be at this Memorial on Memorial Day to give tribute to those who have served in the Armed Services of the United States of America." Me too Danny, me too.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2010, 07:32:56 PM by Chelemar »

Offline Jated

Re: Where have all the bands and bugles gone?
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2010, 07:35:55 PM »
It is hard for me.  Every time I see a service man or woman, I want to shake their hands, and just cry...
My father, grandfather, well...most of the men I remember growing up, all served in the services.  I never knew the reason for taps, or why some families got flags and some didn't.  I never completely understood any of it. I wish I had known more at a younger age, so I could have understood...
Today, I think about those that serve, and why they sacrifice for our freedom, and for our safety.  They give their lives and their families go without them.  I have a great amount of respect for our children who are over seas, and even those who aren't.  My heart aches, and my eyes full of tears. 
I pray, to God, that one day, our children's children, will understand and care, truly care, what happens in the world.  I am very thankful, and appreciative, of the men and women serving...and I do hope this war ends soon.
Thank you Chele, for your thoughts.   Memorial Day...God Bless You and Keep you!!!

Offline ChelemarTopic starter

Re: Where have all the bands and bugles gone?
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2010, 07:51:44 PM »
Thank you and yes, me too.  When I see a serviceperson in uniform, I stop and shake his or her hand and thank them for their service.
As for Taps also known as "Go to sleep"
The military has used musical notes as signals for soldiers to know when to do what.  Different notes would tell them when to wake up, march, stop marching, attack, retreat, and even tell them it time to extinguish lights (lighs out.)  During the US Civil War, a General changed Taps notes a bit and gave us the "modern" version of Taps as we know it today.
They began playing Taps at military funerals to honor fallen comrads in their final "lights out."
And although there are no offical words to Taps, sites list the following as the most familiar:
They are the ones I have known since a young girl.
Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.   Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.   Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.   Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.   Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.


Offline Jated

Re: Where have all the bands and bugles gone?
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2010, 07:53:29 PM »
Thanks, that was very beautiful!!

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Where have all the bands and bugles gone?
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2010, 08:16:31 PM »
Thanks, that was very beautiful!!

And sad. I like/hate that song. I have heard it in so many memorial services that I won't ever be able to separate it from the funeral event anymore.