Posted at 12:03 PM on October 8, 2009
by Than Tibbetts
In West Fargo, N.D., it seems less likely that you'll hear the plaintive echoes of taps, at least from a real, live bugler.
The VFW there purchased a $1,000 "digital bugle," putting 23-year-old bugler Alex Davis out of a "job," though I imagine she doesn't do it for the $20 honorarium. Davis, who is visually impaired, said she plays because it's "the only way I could serve."
From the Forum in Fargo:
Davis belongs to Bugles Across America, a network of volunteers who believe veterans deserve a live rendition of taps.
"We, as a corps, believe that fake taps is stolen dignity," she said.
Russell Berg, commander of VFW Post 7564 told the Forum the decision to switch came about in a shuffle in the club's leadership.
I harbor personal feelings toward this story, having played taps at Memorial Day services and military funerals throughout high school. It was a great honor to be asked to play, and to me it seems that a "digital bugle" would lack in comparison to the sound of a real horn.
Though, my story is also a reflection of the current situation; I haven't played taps at a funeral in a long time.
Congress approved playing recordings of taps at military funerals in 2000 because of a shortage of active buglers.
Update: MPR's Tom Weber covered a similar story on the digital bugle (audio link) while he was working for KWMU in St. Louis.
A shortage of active buglers? If you can play the trumpet you can play taps on it.
I played the bugle when I was in Boy Scouts, though never for a funeral. At the National Boy Scout Jamboree it seemed that every council in country brought a bugler along. When it came time for taps at night, with few thousand scouts camped in a big field, every troop's bugler took their turn. You kind of had to jump in when someone else finished. It went on for at least half an hour every night, one after another.
Just because they bought the electronic bugle in Grand Forks doesn't mean they have to use it. Hopefully they can let Alex play when she is available.
I love honor guard so very much. This was one of the only ways I had to serve our great nation. My Dad is in the National Guard, so I fight for veterans while he serves ffffor us on the front lines. Please visit my website at honorguardbugler.com