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Taps. Beautiful. Moving. Mournful. Haunting.

As I was driving home tonight, the radio played an interview about the origin of taps, that it’s the result of a family tragedy during the Civil War.

The story: During the night, a Union Army captain hears a moan from among the fallen soldiers. Not knowing if it is his one of own men, he ventures out and brings back the person. Once the captain is near the campfire, he discovers the wounded soldier is a Confederate. Worse yet, this is his own son! The boy had been studying music at a southern school and wound up in the Confederate army.

The boy dies in his father’s arms. The father discovers music his son had written in the pocket of the boy’s uniform. Because his son is with the enemy, the father’s request for a full band to play a funeral dirge is denied. But he is allowed one favor, a bugler, and that bugler plays that piece of music, what we today call taps.

A moving story but not true. When I googled this, a link to Snopes was the first thing to pop up. Read what Snopes says is the true origin.

Still, during this holiday weekend, it is good to remind ourselves of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice that allows us to live free.


Navy bugler
A 1917 Navy bugler (American Press Association photo, public domain)