Taps Across America started with Doug Neralich who was drafted into the Vietnam War as an Army medic.

With Memorial Day on Monday, tens of thousands of musicians are polishing their instruments and practicing in order to participate in one of the largest musical performances of all time – “Taps Across America.” On Monday, at 3 p.m. sharp, they’ll play “Taps” to remember America’s fallen.

Any instrument will do, from a bugle to a kazoo.

“Taps” is a bugle call – a signal, not a song. As such, there is no associated lyric. Many bugle calls had words associated with them as a mnemonic device, but these are not lyrics.

It all started with Doug Neralich who was drafted into the Vietnam War as an Army medic. He was not able to save all the service members he served alongside. “I think there is an additional layer of trauma and meaning when you lose somebody who you knew as a friend, as a comrade,” he told CBS News.

On Memorial Day last year and the year before, at 3 p.m., Neralich went into his yard to play “Taps.” The notes from his trombone drifting through his New Jersey neighborhood. He’ll do it again this year, joining a growing number of musicians participating in this new national tradition.

CBS’s Steve Hartman teamed up with retired Air Force bugler Jari Villanueva to launch “Taps Across America” in 2020. “We were just looking for a way to commemorate the holiday right in the depths of the pandemic, when parades were canceled. And the fact that this is now happening tens of thousands of times over, from the tallest mountains to the beaches, people are pausing for those 24 notes to commemorate what the holiday is really all about,” Hartman says.

Any musician can participate, and everyone is encouraged to step outside to listen and reflect. “I want this ultimately to be inescapable,” Hartman said.

Neralich said he feels duty-bound to play and share with his neighbors. “It’s a way of honoring those that made that sacrifice.”

Steve Hartman is asking buglers, trumpeters and really anyone to join, playing taps at 3:00 p.m. sharp local time on Memorial Day.

Image Sources

  • Taps: Shutterstock