Veterans Day 2020: Taps Across America

Last month, Dick Slease (in photo, on the right), president of Brunswick Bands, Inc., contacted Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range with a request. Dick wanted to organize a Taps Across America tribute at the rifle range on Veterans Day.

This was a continuation of the effort that began in May for Memorial Day. Because the pandemic caused the cancellation of commemorations, musicians were encouraged to play Taps wherever they stood at 3pm on Memorial Day. Across America, tens of thousands of soloists played Taps on porches, parking lots – wherever they were. According to CBS News (story link below), it was one of the largest musical performances of all time.

For Veterans Day, the musicians were urged to choose a World War I memorial. The Fort Caswell Rifle Range was the site chosen by local musician Dick Slease, Ben Edwards, the Director of Music and teacher at South Brunswick Middle School, and Alex Gilland, a student at South Brunswick High School

Before playing Taps, Dick made the following remarks:

Good morning and thank you for coming.

I’m Dick Slease, President of Brunswick Bands Inc., and joining me on this very special day is Ben Edwards, the Director of Music and teacher at South Brunswick Middle School and Alex Gilland who is a student at South Brunswick High School.

We are taking part in a nationwide event to honor those who served in all the armed forces which were necessary to the creation and defense of our country. This event is sponsored by Bugles Across America, an offshoot of Taps Across America, a nationwide conglomeration of brass instrumentalists who play Taps on their front porch at noon on Memorial Day in commemoration of those individuals whose lives were taken in the course of the defense of our country against enemies who only wanted to see our downfall.

Veterans Day, today, is the day that we honor all who served and successfully defended our nation.  The Great War was declared ended when an armistice was signed in Northern France at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That event gave birth to “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of Arlington National Cemetery’s new Memorial Amphitheater in March of 1921.

We are gathered here at the Ft. Caswell Rifle Pit to honor all veterans, but specifically the World War I veterans who served from Brunswick County, North Carolina.

Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand proudly while Taps is sounded.

You can now view the video here:

You can read and hear more about the Memorial Day Taps Across America here. In that story, Jari Villanueva was interviewed about his group, Taps for Veterans, which also sponsored the event. Mr. Villanueva’s website was used as the source for a photo of the trench bugle (pictured here) for our WWI Profile for William Ralph Smith. A donation was made to his website at that time.

At left, Norma Eckard, president of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, lays the wreath at the rifle range. The wreath was made by her friend in West Virginia, Barbara Conway. Thank you, Barbara!

Thank you to Richard Stone for the photo of the musicians.

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