How We Honor Our Fallen On Memorial Day

The most powerful and memorable moment of most Military funerals is Taps. It is used to honor our fallen heros. Did you know there are lyrics to Taps? We explore what those lyrics are, who wrote them, and take a moment to honor everyone who has given their life for our country.

We will also play an audio clip of President Ronald Reagan. Many consider him one of the best presidents in the history of this country. Even those who do not have to concede he was one of the greatest orators of our time.

His powerful speech on Memorial Day 1996 is one of the best tributes to the fallen men and women of our armed services that have ever been spoken. So we will play a clip of that on today’s show to honor them.

Finally we will end the show in the same way these brave men and women end their last moments on this earth. With grieving family and friends gathered around them. With a grateful country mourning their sacrifice. Taps is the last sounds we hear as they are sent off with a hero’s honor to meet their eternal reward.

Thank you to every man and woman who gave their lives. And thank you to their families for your enormous suffering and loss. We are grateful.

Show Notes and Transcript

"Taps" is a bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and at military funerals by the United States armed forces. The official military version is played by a single bugle or trumpet.

Taps is also sometimes known as "Butterfield's Lullaby", or by the first line of the lyric, "Day Is Done". The duration may vary to some extent; the typical recording below is 59 seconds long.

It is called “Taps” in common usage because it is was used for the same purpose (to signal lights out) as the three drum taps.

However the U.S. Army still called it Extinguish Lights and it did not officially change the name to Taps until 1891.

Captain John C. Tidball, West Point Class of 1848, started the custom of playing "Taps" at military funerals. In early July 1862 at Harrison's Landing, a corporal of Tidball's Battery A, 2nd Artillery, died.

Tidball wished to bury him with full military honors, but, for military reasons, he was refused permission to fire three guns over the grave. Tidball later wrote, "The thought suggested itself to me to sound taps instead, which I did.

The idea was taken up by others, until in a short time it was adopted by the entire army and is now looked upon as the most appropriate and touching part of a military funeral."

It became a standard component to U.S. military funerals in 1891.[9]

"Taps" is sounded during each of the military wreath ceremonies conducted at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every year, including the ones held on Memorial Day.

In 1891 TAPS became a standard Component of military funerals.

Many people do not know that there are lyrics to this powerful piece of music. We mostly recognize it by sound and the deeply emotional times it is played.

There are lyrics however, and the most commonly recognized are call the "Day is done" lyrics. Day is Done are the first 3 words in those lyrics.

The first verse which begins with those lyrics is commony used by boy scouts at the end of the day. One of the few uses of TAPS that isn't related to the military.

The first two verses may be attributed to Rukard Hurd. Hurd was a member of the Class of 1878 of the Pennsylvania Military College, which later became Widener University, and a trustee from 1895 to 1922.

He is said to have composed the lyrics to Taps which are the "Day is Done" lyrics.

However, Most sources on the internet attribute the commonly used "Day is Done" lyrics to Horace Lorenzo Trim:

After spending several days researching this the only official lyrics I could find by Horace Lorenzo Trim are as follows:

He's at rest, with the blessed
For his country he did his best
Put the flag on his breast
Comrade rest

While those words are certianly meaningful they just aren't as powerful and poinent as the "Day is Done" Lyrics.

As it stands now, there really aren't any official lyrics to taps unless you consider the "Day is done" lyrics to be official.

It would be more accurate to say they are unoffically official since most people accept them as official.

In addition to the first two verses credited to Rukard Hurd, there are several other popular verses that are generally regarded as official lyrics as well. Their sources can't be verified.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
'Neath the sun, 'neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.


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