August 23, 2014

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The Story of Taps

The 24-note bugle call known as “Taps” is thought to be a revision of a French bugle signal, called “tattoo,” that notified soldiers to cease an evening’s drinking and return to their barracks or garrisons. It was sounded one hour before the bugle call that brought the military day to an end by ordering the extinguishing of fires and lights. The last five measures of the tattoo resemble the modern day "Taps."

The word “taps” is an alteration of the obsolete word “taptoo,” derived from the Dutch “taptoe.” Taptoe was the command -- “Tap toe!” -- to shut (“toe to”) the “tap” of a keg.

The revision that gave us present-day Taps was made during America’s Civil War by Union Gen. Daniel Adams Butterfield, heading a brigade camped at Harrison Landing, Va., near Richmond. Up to that time, the U.S. Army’s infantry call to end the day was the French final call, "L’Extinction des feux.” Gen. Butterfield decided the “lights out” music was too formal to signal the day’s end.

One day in July 1862, he recalled the tattoo music and hummed a version of it to an aide, who wrote it down in music. Butterfield then asked the brigade bugler, Oliver W. Norton, to play the notes and, after listening, lengthened and shortened them while keeping his original melody.

He ordered Norton to play this new call at the end of each day thereafter, instead of the regulation call. The music was heard and appreciated by other brigades, who asked for copies and adopted this bugle call. It was even adopted by Confederate buglers. This music was made the official Army bugle call after the war, but not given the name “Taps” until 1874.

The first time Taps was played at a military funeral may also have been in Virginia soon after Butterfield composed it. Union Capt. John Tidball, head of an artillery battery, ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Not wanting to reveal the battery’s position in the woods to the enemy nearby, Tidball substituted Taps for the traditional three rifle volleys fired over the grave.

Taps was played at the funeral of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson 10 months after it was composed. Army infantry regulations by 1891 required Taps to be played at military funeral ceremonies.

Taps now is played by the military at burial and memorial services and is still used to signal “lights out” at day’s end.

Story comes from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.


Holiday Film Favorites

We've made a list of Christmas movies (and checked it twice) that are sure to help you get in the swing of the season. From traditional classics to some you may not have forgotten, we've got you covered!

Babes in Toyland
A Christmas Story
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
Christmas with the Kranks
Elf
Home Alone
The Holiday
The Family Man

Looking for more? CLICK HERE for more holiday film favorites!

Good ole' Fashion Family Fun

The holiday season is a time for peace, love, joy and of course, family time! So why not celebrate the Christmas cheer with some good ole' fashion family fun!?

Here are a few traditions you can start this year with your family:

- Set up a Christmas Tree (fake or real, small or large, just make it fun for the whole family!)
- Decorate! Even just a few strands of Christmas lights will do...
- Go Caroling! Singing Christmas tunes are a sure fire way to get you in the Christmas spirit!
- Do a random act of kindness. Don't forget what the season is all about! Why not buy a cup of coffee for a stranger? They'll smile. We're sure of it.

CLICK HERE for a few more ideas to get in the Christmas spirit!