The Sounds of Taps Across America

Tom Day, Founder of Bugles Across America
Tom Day, Founder of Bugles Across America

A CANDIDATE FOR POLITICAL OFFICE–pontificating for the “umpteenth” time on the campaign stump–spewed words at two hundred per minute, with gusts to two-fifty. At full bluster, he quoted the old line about “standing on the shoulders of others gone before.”

“If his shoulders are as slick as his speeches, you won’t find any footprints on ‘em,” one critic muttered.

This is, however, a great truth worth revisiting. Many shoulders of folks who’ve gone on—as well as those still serving in military and public service posts—have helped America “stay stitched” at a time when more values are on trial than we have enough gavels for.


Don Newbury
Don Newbury

Upon exiting movies recently—Unbroken, then American Sniper—I thought of this sobering quote. May God be thanked for others’ shoulders on which we stand in a world where too many choose to hunker down.

“One nation under God” and other patriotic thoughts flooded. Immediately I remembered the band playing the National Anthem at a high school football game in Mineral Wells, Texas, some twenty-five years ago. The entire stadium was pin-drop quiet. I was thankful for the reverence of the moment, and figured Fort Wolters, a long-time military base there, probably fostered this attitude of gratitude. (Mineral Wells’ Vietnam Memorial Wall, with names updated annually as on the Wall in Washington, DC, attracts many visitors from throughout the state and beyond.)

A friend recently mentioned his understandable pride in his grandson, Spencer Seay. Spencer spent seven years in the US Army, including two tours in Iraq. He and wife Lauren—Cleburne residents and CHS graduates–were in Dallas for the national premiere showing of American Sniper.


   Their experience warrants re-telling: Seated next to them in the sold-out theater were several teenage boys. They were boisterous during previews, and Lauren worried that they might spoil their outing.

At movie’s end, she realized they had heard NOTHING from any of them–except for the several times they wept.

She lauded hero Chris Kyle—on whose life the movie centers—for his love of God, family and country. She recommends the book, too.


   Also recalled was an organization called “Bugles Across America” ( Founded in 2000 by Tom J. Day, BAA continues to expand under his presidential leadership. A Marine vet, he works passionately arranging for live buglers to play taps at funerals throughout the country. He and 7,500 other buglers play taps for burials–military or civilian—at no charge. (Day also has opened a museum next door to his home near Chicago, IL.)

Day himself has played taps at 5,500 funerals to date, starting with his drum-and-bugle corps membership at age ten. For years, alongside of him almost every time is his thirty-two-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy and autism.

If you want some “red, white and blue” cheer, visit the website. You’ll be thrilled to learn more about these BAA patriots, ages ten to ninety-two. They are real live heroes of our Uncle Sam, even if few were born on the Fourth of July.


   Growing numbers of folks are learning about the organization. The website provides contact information for families who want taps played for burial of loved ones. (Pentagon sources confirm that some 3,500 WWII vets die monthly, and forty percent of their families are requesting BAA buglers.)

Irrespective of faith, creed, color or conviction, “whosoever will” are granted bugle tributes. Yes, sometimes wrong notes are hit, but aren’t they during life, too?

Tom remembers one service that went awry.


   Scheduled to play taps for a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, he decided to affix the shiny bayonet to his rifle for his three-shot tribute prior to taps. The first shot sounded strange, and on the second, the barrel exploded, sending the bayonet fifteen feet into the air, “stabbing” the earth seconds later at the priest’s feet. (“God, just help me to get taps right,” Day prayed.) The rest went well. The family insisted on making photos. The priest laughed, saying he couldn’t wait to get back to the rectory to tell the nuns about the bugler who almost killed him.

We hope to take our six grandchildren to Chicago to meet Tom. We want to know a bonafide patriot who has “been there, done that,” and, at age seventy-five, still is.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Archives:

Please click the book cover image to read more about the humorous and inspirational stories of Don Newbury in When The Porch Light’s on.


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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Don, some people know what should be done. Some talk about what should be done. Tom Day goes out and does it. Thanks for introducing me to one of America’s great patriots.

  • Don Newbury

    Caleb, a truly remarkable patriot!

  • Roger Summers

    They tap in to what really matters.

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