Thursday, May 25, 2023

Monday is Memorial Day

Agathon Associates will be closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day, a United States federal holiday which occurs every year on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

In much of the United States, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. The "three day weekend" created by the Monday holiday is enjoyed with cookouts, trips to the beach and other leisure activities as will as parades and public ceremonies honoring those who died in service of the nation. This Memorial Day we remember and honor the men and women who died to preserve our freedom. Even as we enjoy kicking off summer, however we chose this weekend, that is itself a testimony to their sacrifices, for we enjoy the cookouts, trips to the beach, and so forth because they made it possible. We especially honor those who died for our country when we decorate their graves or participate in patriotic parades and ceremonies this weekend.

At those solemn memorial events in our towns and cities, in our churches and synagogues, and in the halls of our veterans or other lodges, a familiar, haunting melody will mark the day --

The familiar bugle call "Taps" is generally believed to be based on a traditional French call to curfew (from Middle English "curfeu," from Old French "cuevrefeu," meaning cover the fire and turn in for the night).

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the use of "Taps" is unique to the United States military, as the call is sounded at funerals, wreath-laying ceremonies and memorial services. "Taps" originally began as a signal to extinguish lights. Up until the Civil War, the infantry call for "Extinguish Lights" was the one set down in the Infantry manuals which had been borrowed from the French. The music for "Taps" was changed by Major General Daniel Adams Butterfield for his brigade in July 1862. Butterfield was not pleased with the call for "Extinguish Lights," feeling that it was too formal to signal the day's end. With the help of the brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, he created "Taps" to honor his men while in camp at Harrison's Landing, Virginia following the Seven Days' battles during the Peninsular Campaign.

The same Veterans Affair internet resource,, states that the earliest official reference to the mandatory use of "Taps" at military funeral ceremonies is found in the U.S. Army Infantry Drill Regulations for 1891, although it had doubtless been used unofficially long before that time, under its former designation, "Extinguish Lights." The first use of "Taps" at a funeral was during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. Captain John C. Tidball of Battery A, 2nd Artillery ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Because the enemy was close, he worried that the traditional three volleys would renew fighting.

Taps now is played by the military at burial and memorial services, to accompany the lowering of the flag, and to signal the "lights out" command at day's end.

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