Memorial Day

May 29th, 2006 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

Marine_bugler_plays_taps_at_arlington_3When I was a kid, I was pressed into service for every fallen soldier’s funeral, every Memorial Day event and every parade. You see, I was the trumpet player who played TAPS, hundreds of times. Sometimes it was for a funeral for an elderly WWI vet. Sometimes for (at that time) a middle-aged WWII vet. The Korean vets were few and far between, but the most meaningful and difficult for me were the newly killed Vietnam vets because they were my brothers. Their birth dates were my birthdate. Their girlfriends were my girlfriends. Their families were my families. I stood by a tree or above the grave site, and many times trembled with my own tears echoing the tears of the loved ones being interred.

Taps_musicThe two most difficult times were both lifetime memories. The first was November 24, 1963, alone, in the middle of my high school football game, in the middle of the field, I played solo taps for John F. Kennedy, our president, who at that time was my generation’s personal hero. The man who brought youth, excitement and challenge to our nation.

Vietnam_veterans_memorial_2The second was atop a Bank Building in Indiana, PA where I stood in full uniform as a non-com in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, looking across a sea of 1,000 uniformed soldiers lined up on Philadelphia Avenue, knowing that many of them were waiting to be shipped out to Vietnam. Many of them were my friends, and many did not come home.

I do NOT miss playing TAPS, and wish that the world would stop producing the need for them.



  1. I also have memories of the Vietnam era. For some reason my husband did not have to go to Vietnam. He was, however, drafted at that time and served as a “scout”. The life expectancy of a “scout” in Nam was 2.2 seconds. Now young men the ages of our sons are in Iraq! Peace on Earth!

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