Is Taps sounded around the world?

09 Jun 2024 8:40 PM | Therese Orr (Administrator)

This article originally appeared in the pages of the Gettysburg Times, May of 2024. It was penned by John Tuskan of the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, in the hopes of sharing the work the Fellowship does.

The bugle call “Taps” will once more fill the air in Gettysburg every evening this summer as the famous 24-note call is sounded in honor of those who have died serving our nation. The Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania is cosponsoring the eighth year of One Hundred Nights of Taps Gettysburg with Gettysburg National Military Park, in partnership with Taps for Veterans, the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides, and the Eisenhower National Historic Site. As we enter a new season of our program, questions are often asked about “Taps,” such as, when did ceremonial bugle calls begin and is “Taps” sounded in other nations?

According to Jari Villanueva, Musical Director for 100 Nights of Taps Gettysburg and an expert on military bugle calls, the custom of honoring the dead at burials and memorial services with trumpet and bugle calls dates to Biblical times. Ancient trumpets were used at religious ceremonies and were associated with magical rites. The tradition of playing at sunrise (“Reveille”), sunset (“Retreat”), and at burials (“Taps”) may have evolved from these ancient services. In the military of many nations, it is now customary that a bugle or trumpet sounds the last call of the day and ceremonially honors the dead during military funerals.

In the United States, “Taps” was first sounded in a military funeral in July 1862. Beginning in 1891, the playing of Taps became standard at military funeral ceremonies. Today, “Taps” is sounded as the final call every evening on military installations and at military funerals. In 2013 “Taps” was legislated as our “National Song of Military Remembrance.” Although “Taps” is unique to the U.S., other nations have also developed bugle call that are performed at military funerals.

In England and the British Commonwealth Nations, “Last Post” “is the bugle call sounded during military funerals and other solemn occasions as a final farewell. It symbolizes that the duties of the dead are over and that they may rest in peace.

During French military funerals, the bugle call “Sonnerie Aux Morts” is sounded. This call was composed for use by the French after World War I. During the war, French military leaders were impressed by the impact that the “Last Post” and “Taps” had on participants and observers during military funerals.

In Italy “Silenzio d’Ordinanza” is sounded at night when soldiers have gone to sleep, and it is also performed at military funeral services.

In Germany, no bugle calls are sounded at military funerals. Musical support may consist of a band or three drummers and one trumpet player. At the end of the ceremony, the band plays the chorale “Ich hatt einen Kameraden” ("I had a comrade").

The Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania cordially invites you to attend 100 Nights of Taps Gettysburg to hear the sounding of “Taps” and join us in honoring those buried there, as well as all those who have served our nation. The program will begin every evening at 7 PM between May 27 and September 2, 2024, at the Soldiers’ National Monument in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania is a 501(c)3 Organization
P. O. Box 3372, Gettysburg, PA  17325


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software