As regular readers of my posts will notice, I don't usually do this. But today and over the weekend, I think it is important to think more about the sacrifice of those who have died protecting our freedoms than the geopolitical and domestic trouble the current incarnation of war (Iraq attack etc...) has generated; particularly over the course of the tenure of the W, Rove and Co.
Incidentally, those of you who wish to do more than pray, there is a small and growing grass roots political action brewing that allows those of us who are waging the "war against war" to make a statement by exercising our First Amendment Rights. Without further ado, here's the original TAPS post:
Out on my AM run, I got to thinking, here we are, just over two weeks away from the Memorial Day Weekend. In my high school days, I lived in a town that actually had a parade - still does I'm sure - to mark the occasion. I played taps as the flag was lowered to half staff (here's a link for those of you unfamiliar with the tune).Cross posted at Bring it On and the Educational Whisper.
Then, I was a hard core trumpet player. I practiced every day and my chops were good enough to get me to the double "c" in the upper register. I played in the symphonic band, the jazz/big band, in the pit orchestra for the various yearly musicals, and the marching band.
It was the marching band that I hated the most, mainly because of the hot uniforms we would put on regardless the weather - wool, dickeys, funky hats with feathers, spats...you know the look. We did earn one fateful trip to march down the main street in Disneyworld one year, but beyond that, the practice and rigor of marching was not all together my cup of tea.
Where I took the most pride and where I felt the most important as a musician and a trumpet player was at the tail end of the parade. All the town's folks gathered on the town green and all bands were assembled around the Fallen Heroes monument and the requisite plugged howitzer (which it seems like every town in our area had), and after the benedictions, the prayers and the first selectwoman said a few words, we usually played a hymn or the National Anthem which was always followed by a 21 gun salute ("ready, aim, fire" - 7 guns, usually M-16s - three reports) followed immediately by the playing of Taps.
I started as the echo. A more senior player did the up front report of taps. I followed, playing about 100 meters away using the middle school wall to get the full acoustical echo. When I was a senior, I graduated to playing the first report and another kid played the echo. I always got teary just after the last echo reverberated of the wall. Most everyone on the green walked back to their cars or to their home a little bit sad and who knows feeling what else.
For me, I was as proud as ever to be an American and realized how grateful I was that people were willing to put their lives on their line for our freedom. As they say, freedom isn't nor ever is free. But as we head into this somber time of Memorial Day, perhaps some of us should hang our heads a bit lower as the burden of responsibility for some recent military deaths hangs heavy around the necks of our leadership.
Me, I choose to look skyward, reach back to the deeper depths, and be thankful for those that have gone before and for me - From the real Minutemen (not the incarnation on the Mexican border) that fought the Redcoats back in the 1700s to the families that lost sons on both sides of the argument in the civil war, to the veterans of WW I and WWII that fought obvious tyrants, for the Marines, Air Force, Army, Navy, and the Coast Guard men and women who have lost their lives in the pursuit and protection of our lives and liberty, I give thanks.
As we move into another of America's heavily commercialized holidays, let us resolve to toss out the trappings, remember our fallen heroes and give thanks. May all our heroes rest in peace.