News / USA

Bugler at President Kennedy’s Funeral Remembered 50 Years Later

Bugler at President Kennedy’s Funeral Remembered 50 Years Lateri
X
November 21, 2013 12:34 AM
Military and state funerals include the playing of Taps, usually by a lone bugler. There is a shortage of buglers today, however, so the solemn music often is performed on other instruments or even from a recording. Fifty years ago, the world experienced the emotional power of Taps being played, as President John F. Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. This week, a group called Taps for Veterans honored the man who played Taps at that ceremony, in the process, highlighting the importance of buglers. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
Deborah Block
— Military and state funerals include the playing of Taps, usually by a lone bugler. There is a shortage of buglers today, however, so the solemn music often is performed on other instruments or even from a recording. Fifty years ago, the world experienced the emotional power of Taps being played, as President John F. Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. This week, a group called Taps for Veterans honored the man who played Taps at that ceremony, in the process, highlighting the importance of buglers.

At Arlington National Cemetery, a bugler plays Taps at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death. The event also honored Army Sergeant Keith Clark, who played the solemn melody at the president’s funeral. Clark was an experienced and polished musician, who faltered once during the 24-note piece.

To some it was a flawed performance, but to others, it sounded mournful and reflected the sadness of the nation.  

Bugler honored

Clark died several years ago. But members of his family came to the commemoration, including his 90-year-old wife, Marjorie.

“Well, we looked at it as a normal mistake a trumpeter can make, combined with the cold and the pressure and the length of time he had to stand,” she said.

Afterward, Sergeant Clark received letters of support, including from Eddie Hunter, who was then a 10-year-old learning to play the trumpet. Clark wrote back. Today, Hunter meets members of Clark’s family for the first time.  

“Being here, it’s a little bit overwhelming, it’s very emotional for me and to meet Sergeant Clark’s family. It’s just great,” said Hunter.

The tribute was led by retired military bugler Jari Villanueva. He’s with Taps for Veterans, a group that finds and arranges for buglers to perform Taps at military funerals and ceremonies. He said it's sometimes difficult.

“The military has been downsizing, and as a result of that downsizing, military bands have been cut. So there’s a lack of active duty military buglers to sound taps at funerals,” said Villanueva.

Storied song

Taps was first played during the American Civil War 150 years ago. A general wanted a different lights out call for the troops.

"The general was not very pleased with the call that was being sounded and decided to change it. What he did was to revise an earlier bugle call into these 24 notes that we know today as Taps. And it soon caught on as a bugle call of the evening and then became used at military funerals," said Villanueva.

David Michel plays bugle at Civil War re-enactments and wants to preserve the tradition of Taps. “That’s why so many civilian horn players are trying to take up the call to fill the gap for important ceremonies, for the burial of veterans, and other things as well.”

Villanueva said Taps isn’t the same without the bugle. “When you have a live bugler sounding taps, it’s a piece of music that actually comes from the heart and a recording just can’t really replicate that sound.”

That sound brings him to tears, said bugler and military policeman, Gregory Simms, expressing a sentiment held by many.

“It is possibly one of the most stirring pieces of music I’ve ever heard,” he said.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid