Honoring their sacrifice: COVID-19 changes, doesn't stop Memorial Day remembrance

Stillwater High School senior Neil Aker, 17, performed "Taps" in downtown Stillwater on Monday as part of the Taps Across America Memorial Day commemoration. Michelle Charles/Stillwater News Press

On Memorial Day, Modella Art Gallery marked the sacrifices made by men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military by hosting a trumpet player performing “Taps” on it’s front porch. Modella owner Valerie Bloodgood said she wanted to be part of the “Taps Across America” memorial day celebration in part, because of memories of her father.

“My dad was in the military and he had his bugle,’ Bloodgood said. “Every once in a while he would as a joke, try to play “Reveille” or “Taps”. And then I was a Girl Scout. So I really liked the idea of recognizing all the military folks who have died serving our country.”

As Memorial Day ceremonies were cancelled across the nation due to COVID-19, a movement to find another way to recognize military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice developed into a nationwide movement called “Taps Across America.”

To honor those sacrifices, thousands of buglers planned to pick up their trumpets at 3 p.m. Monday and play the plaintive notes that for members of the military, mark the end of the day and the end of life.

Stillwater High School senior Neil Aker was suggested by his teacher, Oklahoma State University Assistant Professor of Trumpet Joseph Cooper.

Aker, 17, is a member of the SHS marching band who says he was glad to have the opportunity to do something significant while expanding his repertoire and gaining experience performing in public.

It sounded like fun and more importantly, like an opportunity to recognize those who died for our country.

“I definitely have family members who have fought and died in the armed service,” Aker said. “I love Taps Across America, I was already planning on participating in it on my own porch … Now that I get to do it for an audience, it’s a lot more fun and meaningful.”

Aker said he plans to pursue music in college and is open to expanding his musical horizons. He would be open to performing at a variety of events, including performing “Taps” at military funerals.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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