May 27, 2011 •
Growing up in a musical family taught me to appreciate the impact music has in every aspect of my life. My father, a music instructor, would explain to me the importance of “Taps,” a specific military bugle call, and the honor one should take when performing Taps. Ironically, the simplicity and slow speed of Taps is what makes it one of the most difficult and challenging pieces to play. Every note, every breath, and every pause must be articulated perfectly and with feeling.
If you have heard Taps performed, you will agree that it is the only piece of music, aside from the National Anthem, able to render universal emotion and connection from all Americans. The melody is both eloquent and lingering and never fails to bring a tear to one’s eye. But more importantly, it is the symbolism of the music that I value most when observing Memorial Day.
When Taps is played, it is a time for reflection, honor, and peace. A person may think, feel, or appreciate this moment of recognition in any way he/she sees fit. That is what I love the most about Memorial Day, as well. Memorial Day is not a day where universal tradition calls for universal action. Every American is able to show respect and commemoration for the honorable fallen in a unique way. Some visit the graves of relatives or friends who have died protecting our country. Some worship and participate in religious ceremony, blessing those who have made a difference serving our country. Some simply choose a moment of silence in their busy day to pause and reflect on not only of the lives of our soldiers, but also on their own life.
Regardless of how you celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, remember save a small bit of time to think about this holiday and how it has affected you. And, if by chance you hear Taps performed—whether at a cemetery, church, or government ceremony—listen to the music and the emotions behind the composition. It may be the most meaningful Memorial Day you’ve had in a long time.
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