Local Minister Rusty Dawson played Taps on his trumpet on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. at the Stilwell County Courthouse on the Kiwanis Bandstand.
He joined thousands of musicians across the nation, playing the solemn 24 notes of Taps to remember those who serve and have served this country.
Taps Across America began last year during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way for individuals to play Taps at the same time, but in different places. Last year, more than 10,000 Americans participated to honor, reflect and remember.
“Taps is a song military individuals play at the end of the day on military bases, as well as funerals for service men and women. This song is a way of saying ‘thank you’ and ‘rest in peace.’ It is a commemoration of those who served and especially on Memorial Day, those who gave their lives,” Dawson said.
His father was a World War II Veteran, so Memorial Day is even more special for him.
“I have played Taps at funerals for veterans, especially around Seminole County and this is a way for me to give back. This year, I actually registered through Taps Across America, so I am official through their organization,” said Dawson.
Dawson started playing trumpet in the fifth grade, took a break for several years and then rekindled his love for the instrument.
“A bugle is much like a trumpet. My Boy Scout troop had a drum and bugle corps and I played in that for a few years. I have volunteered with the Strother High School Band and most recently I helped with Stilwell High School’s band,” Dawson said.
Taps Across America is sponsored by Taps for Veterans, an organization committed to finding live buglers for funerals and memorial services. Taps for Veterans was founded in 2012 by Jari Villaneuva, who served as a bugler at the Arlington National Cemetery for 23 years.
Robert Worsham, retired Navy veteran, spent four years in the Navy while he traveled the country. Worsham is from Stilwell but said when he enlisted into the Navy and he realized how big the Navy was, his jaw dropped to the floor.
“I have been to a lot of military cemeteries and events where they have played taps. It is quite an honor to play and hear this song that brings back so many memories,” said Worsham.
Worsham said he is very honored to have served his country and even after all these years it is so special to remember the men and women who serve to protect others they do not even know.
“I just think of the many women and men who have died for this country,” Worsham said.
He has been overseas and saw the world via the Navy.
“I have seen Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines and many other places. We have freedom in the United states and I am honored to be a Navy veteran,” he said.
Stilwell resident Robert Patterson said attending the Memorial Day Taps Remembrance was a great opportunity to listen to the solemn song and remember what this day is truly about.
“We are honoring soldiers we don’t even know and those soldiers who didn’t get the recognition they deserve,” said Patterson.
In 2000, a resolution called the National Moment of Remembrance was passed. This resolution asks Americans to take time at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day to voluntarily and informally observe a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.
Since the year 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance has been observed by millions from across the country and the tradition will hopefully continue for years to come.