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Buglers hear the call for 'Taps'

By Matt Curry

Associated Press

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The day before his grandfather's military funeral, Jonathan Taylor learned something would be missing.

Although the Army veteran would have an honor guard, no bugler was available to play taps, the traditional last salute. A recording was planned instead.

"I wasn't very happy about that," said Taylor, 24. "A recording doesn't seem like it's very appropriate."

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Hundreds of miles from home and without his trumpet, the former music major went to a store, borrowed an instrument and performed the duty himself.

The experience spurred him to join nearly 600 players nationwide in Bugles Across America, created a year ago by an Illinois state lottery worker who wanted to connect bugle, cornet, trumpet and fluegelhorn players with families who need them for military funerals.

"We're going great guns now," said Tom Day of Berwyn, Ill., who has seen his volunteer list grow to include all 50 states.

About 1,600 U.S. military veterans die each day. Most families don't request a military funeral honors ceremony, but the Pentagon tries to honor the wishes of the 10 percent to 15 percent who do.

Faced with a shortage of military buglers, Congress passed a law that took effect in 2000 allowing a recorded version of taps if a live horn player is not available.

Thousands of compact discs featuring taps were distributed to the nation's funeral directors. Although the effort may be well-intentioned, the idea of carting a boombox to the cemetery strikes a sour note with some veterans.

"It doesn't resonate," said Day, an ex-Marine. "The veteran is gone, so this is his final reward for putting on a uniform."

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