Anthony Montimurro has been playing the trumpet for 56 years and even though there are only 24 notes in taps, he still feels the pressure to not crack any of them in the seven-measure bugle call.
"It's a situation of grief and remembrance," Montimurro said. "You don't want to make a mistake."
Starting this year, Montimurro, of Stamford, will serve as the resident bugler to play taps at the Memorial Day ceremony in the Spring Grove Cemetery every year moving forward.
Montimurro, a veteran of the Vietnam War and a new member of the Darien Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6933, is part of Bugles Across America, an organization that plays taps at ceremonies and military funerals across the country. Montimurro said when he joined the VFW, he became the "unofficial official" bugle player.
"(Playing taps) is for the family, for the people who are still with us, because to have someone who served part of his life, maybe in a war, they deserve to be buried with full honor," Montimurro said.
At Monday's Memorial Day ceremony, Montimurro played taps on his silver trumpet from behind the gathering of people. He stood between tombstones of dead veterans as he solemnly played at the end of the ceremony.
Bugles Across America came to fruition in 2000 after Congress passed legislation that gave veterans the right to a funeral with full military honors, which includes two uniformed military people to fold the flag that is draped over the casket and to have taps played on a CD player. Tom Day, the founder of the organization, felt the honors should go one step further and the veterans should have a live rendition of the 24-note bugle call, according to Bugles Across America's website.
"There's something about playing (taps) on an electronic device that just doesn't make it, where as you have someone playing it on a live trumpet or bugle, it just makes it so special," said Montimurro, who started playing the trumpet 56 years ago when he was 11. "I can feel it when I play; it's very, very special."
Montimurro, who joined Bugles Across America more than two years ago, played taps at the funeral of Staff Sgt. Todd James "T.J." Lobraico, a member of the New York Air National Guard. The 22-year-old Sherman resident was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2013.
"It's just so special and why shouldn't a veteran who gave his time, why shouldn't he have a special dedication at his funeral?" Montimurro said.
Taps, or "Lights Out," was played to mark the end of the day for the Union soldiers in the Civil War in 1862. It quickly spread to the Confederate camps and at the end of the war, taps was made the official bugle call. The U.S. Army Infantry Drill Regulations for 1891 is the first official reference that taps be mandatory for all military funerals, though there are records that indicate it was played at funerals prior to that, according to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Currently, the military can only make available roughly 500 trumpeters during the year, but Bugles Across America has more than 7,000 volunteers to play at funerals and ceremonies. The volunteers include veterans, high school students and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
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