I played for a WWII veteran’s funeral last Saturday. It was nice. They had a Salvation Army brass band, four pieces; I never get to hear an alto horn anymore.
They contacted me through the church music director, since I play there Easters. They said they wanted me and asked about my fee. Well, I don’t know what I’d say if a civilian wanted Taps at their funeral. Veterans, however, are legally entitled to Taps (excepting dishonorable dischargees, felons, and fugitives). It isn’t something the family should have to hire or buy, and honors shouldn’t be sold. (If you’re interested, the relevant statute is Title 10, section 191). However, they do have to be requested by the family, through the funeral director or V.A. or some other avenue.
In fact there is a stipend provided by the Secretary of Defense to reimburse supplemental persons if active duty military personnel are not available. Technically, the military representatives are responsible for providing taps, whether playing it or arranging for a sound system. This can take the form of a special bugle that has a digital recording so that a non-bugler can simulate the performance; it also may take the form of a boom-box The various branches of the military are short on buglers. I spoke to a lady whose son is a full-time Taps player for the Navy; that’s his assigned duty.
A trumpet player and ex-marine named Tom Day had the obvious thought that if someone needs Taps, there are plenty of people who can play it; you don’t have to settle for a recording. Sure, the recording will be note-perfect (and it was recorded by a military player, from the Marine Corps band), but a live bugler seems more respectful. Anyway, he founded a civilian group called Bugles Across America that does this. I signed up. The Georgia group gets a request almost every day, and those are just the ones that 1) aren’t being covered by the military and 2) know about the group.
I just want to let people know there are options, if you’re planning a veteran’s funeral.