The Story of Taps

It was July in Virginia, the scent of the dogwood and the laurel lay heavy on the land while the burgeoning fruit of the peach and the apple marked the full sway of summer. For seven fateful days, the trees, the flowers, yes the very ground itself, had shuddered under he roar of cannon, the bark of howitzers and the crackling of a legion of rifles.

Now, all was silent. The sledge hammer blows of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson had mauled the Army of the Potomac, and yet that army was NOT destroyed. Seven thousand men had fallen in that dreadful week, and the savagery of the conflict was grimly evident in the river of wounded that wound through the green hills.

Now a new sound drifted in the soft evening sky, for Colonel Dan Butterfield, a courageous and able soldier, was also a man of music. To honor his fallen comrades, he had composed a simple and heart rending melody. On July 2nd in the year of 1862, its strains floated over the graves that scarred the dark Virginia earth.

It has been more than a hundred years since that sound was born, but those notes have never died away. Every night of the year throughout the world, fighting men of America from the north AND the south, the east and the west, close their eyes and sleep to its call, and in each of their hearts there glows a fierce surge of pride:

Fading light, forming night
Trumpet calls as the sun sinks in site
Sleep in peace, comrades dear
God is near.