Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day - The Story of "Taps"

Army bugler playing TapsThe 24-note bugle call known as “taps” is thought to be a revision of a French bugle signal, called “tattoo,” that notified soldiers to cease an evening’s drinking and return to their barracks or garrisons. It was sounded one hour before the bugle call that brought the military day to an end by ordering the extinguishing of fires and lights. The last five measures of the tattoo resemble the modern day "Taps."

The word “taps” is an alteration of the obsolete word “taptoo,” derived from the Dutch “taptoe.” Taptoe was the command -- “Tap toe!” -- to shut (“toe to”) the “tap” of a keg.

The first time taps was played at a military funeral may have been in Virginia soon after Butterfield composed it. Union Capt. John Tidball, head of an artillery battery, ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Not wanting to reveal the battery’s position in the woods to the enemy nearby, Tidball substituted taps for the traditional three rifle volleys fired over the grave. Taps was played at the funeral of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson 10 months after it was composed. Army infantry regulations by 1891 required taps to be played at military funeral ceremonies. Taps now is played by the military at burial and memorial services and is still used to signal “lights out” at day’s end.
From the US Department of Veteran's Affairs website


Bible verse for tonight:

"No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4


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