As the nation remembers the honored dead who paid the ultimate price for freedom, a solo rendition of “Taps” is cutting through the self-absorption of America’s focus on the coronavirus and reminding Americans of the eternal values that have called forth patriots to defend liberty from the days of Lexington down through Afghanistan and Iraq.
The video of Technical Sgt. Jason Covey playing the mournful song adapted from an earlier song during the Civil War by Union Gen. Daniel Butterfield at Culpepper National Cemetery in Culpepper, Virginia, was posted on the United States Air Force Band’s Facebook page.
As of Monday, the video had more than 62,000 shares and more than 48,000 likes.
The band posted a short message with the video, which pans around Covey from above, showing monuments erected by states to the soldiers who died in battles in northern Virginia, including the 1862 Battle of Cedar Mountain and the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville. The video ends with Covey given the fallen a solemn salute.
“As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, let us reflect on the tremendous price that was paid by the brave men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. Through the sounding of Taps, members of The United States Air Force Band solemnly render honor to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” the post read.
“A long-held musical tradition at military funerals, the music of Taps originated from a Civil War bugle call entitled, ‘Extinguish Lights’. A plaintive call, the sounding of Taps signals the end of the fallen serviceman’s duty and is the final tribute from a grateful nation.
“To those who have given the last full measure of devotion, we honor your service, pay tribute to your lives, and thank you for your selfless sacrifice.”
According to its website, the cemetery was established in 1867. Its monuments include memorial from the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A memorial to the unknown dead of the Civil War was built in 1988 and an Armed Forces Monument was dedicated in 2001.
Many who watched the video left their thanks for a moving moment of remembrance.
“With tears in my eyes. A lump in my throat, and a heart full of gratitude, Thank You to all who have given me and each American Citizen the Freedom we sometimes take for granted,” one user commented.
“Hearing Taps brings tears to my eyes as they bring a heartache reminder of my son’s funeral. So proud of his serve to our Country. Semper Fi,” another user wrote.
“May we never forget the debt of gratitude we owe the military veterans that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” another added.
According to his official biography, Covey is a trumpeter with the Ceremonial Brass unit of the Air Force Band. He joined the Air Force in 2017 after an extensive career as a musician.
The unique circumstances of Memorial Day 2020 meant few Americans could hear a version of “Taps” live. Republican Rep. Paul Cook of California noted as much in an Op-Ed posted on his official website.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis prevents most of the country from commemorating our fallen heroes in traditional ways through public ceremonies and outdoor remembrances,” Cook wrote.
“As a combat veteran, this day of remembrance is particularly meaningful to me as I reflect on the service of those who honorably served alongside me but weren’t lucky enough to make it home. It is in their honor that, as a focus of my public service, I stand up for the men and women who keep us safe. We must all do our part to honor our sons and daughters who were lost in conflicts and wars; we should never forget their selfless and righteous sacrifices.”
“In 1863, Abraham Lincoln stood on the battlefield at Gettysburg and implored America to resolve fully that the war dead shall not have died in vain. This year, I ask all of you to listen to President Lincoln and take time to remember that the cost of freedom has been the lost lives of our nation’s brave men and women. Let’s remember them today and never take our freedom for granted,” he added.