From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you can hear the familiar sound of our National Song of Remembrance, TAPS echoing across Gettysburg National Cemetery. For one hundred days straight, the melody is produced by a lone bugler, sounding from the Soldier’s National Monument.
Organized by our partner TAPS FOR VETERANS, each evening, at 7 pm(EST), volunteer Buglers from across the country play the famous 24-note call at the monument to honor those who have served our nation. TAPS FOR VETERANS co-founder and Brother Jari Villanueva (Kappa Chapter – 1974) shared with us that the “2020 program started as a virtual presentation each evening because of the COVID-19.” Videos of volunteers playing Taps would be posted to Facebook each evening at 7:00 PM. Around the end of June, the volunteer buglers were able to return to Gettysburg National Cemetery to sound Taps in person under the guidance of the CDC and the National Park Service.
For Jari, participating in events like 100 Nights of Taps is extremely important as a Sinfonian, “It is an act of musical service. To sound Taps at a ceremony is important especially in these days of the use of a recording to fill in for a live musician. Sounding the call at ceremonies helps bring hope, peace, rest, remembrance, and even closure to those who hear it performed. And there is a great feeling of brotherhood among those who have served.”
Taps may just be 24-notes, but it has immense power and there is no room for error. It takes special care to perform it properly. “All the performers work up to their evening’s performance. The care taken with practice and attention to how they look is evident in each bugler’s sounding on their special evening. It instills a sense of pride and of civic duty,” says Villanueva.
We wanted to take today, the last day of the event, to recognize this moving contribution to our veterans. Thank you to the buglers and to the Brothers who participated in this meaningful tribute.
Brother Peter Sharrock
Rho Sigma Chapter – 1978
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Brother Andrew Bisnett
Theta Iota Chapter – 2004
SUNY College at Potsdam
Brother Albert Lilly
Delta Lambda Chapter – 1983
Ball State University
Brother Wes Snyder
Lambda Beta Chapter – 1976
Brother Vince Pettinelli
Delta Chapter – 1994
Brother “Don” West
Eta Mu Chapter – 1960
Brother “Rick” Barnes
Delta Chapter – 1970
Brother Jari Villanueva
Kappa Chapter – 1974
About TAPS for VETERANS
TAPS FOR VETERANS provides an opportunity for buglers or trumpet players to sound Taps for military veterans’ funerals and ceremonies. With the military unable to provide live buglers for every military funeral and ceremony, TAPS FOR VETERANS secures volunteers to provide that much-needed service.
TAPS FOR VETERANS is an organization led by former military musicians and active and retired military veterans who acutely understand the importance of properly sounding Taps, our “National Song of Remembrance,” as a way of expressing the nation’s gratitude for a veteran’s service.
TAPS FOR VETERANS seeks buglers and trumpet players from across the country. Volunteers may be former or active military members, civilians, students or professional musicians. Ultimately, the organization would like to involve buglers with a strong desire to serve our nation.
Learn more about TAPS FOR VETERANS by clicking HERE.
About the Co-Founder
When we first reached out to inquire about entering into a partnership with TAPS for VETERANS, it was wonderful to learn that one of the co-founders is also a Sinfonian. Brother Jari Villanueva was initiated at the Kappa Chapter at the Peabody Institute in 1974 and is currently considered the country’s foremost expert on military bugle calls, particularly the call of Taps which is sounded at military funerals.
Brother Villanueva is retired from the United States Air Force, where he spent 23 years with The USAF Band in Washington, DC. While in the Air Force, he was the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) of The USAF Band’s State Funeral Plans and was the NCOIC of the command post at Andrews AFB which oversaw the arrival and departure ceremonies for the late Presidents Reagan and Ford. As a ceremonial trumpeter, Brother Villanueva participated in well over 5,000 ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, and served as an assistant drum major leading The USAF Ceremonial Brass in funerals at Arlington. He was responsible for all the music performed by the USAF Bands for state funerals. Between 1998 and 2002, Brother Villanueva created a display at Arlington National Cemetery highlighting the history of the military bugler. He was responsible for moving the bugle used at President John F. Kennedy’s funeral from the Smithsonian to Arlington, where it is currently on display. In 2007, Brother Villanueva was inducted into the Buglers Hall of Fame, the first active duty military bugler to be so honored.
From 2008 to 2017, Brother Villanueva worked for the Maryland Military Department, serving as the Director of Veterans Affairs, Maryland National Guard Honor Guard (MDNGHG). The mission of the MDNGHG is to provide Military Funeral Honors to Armed Forces Veterans in Maryland. The Honor Guard performs over 3,500 ceremonies each year. He is also retired as a conductor/commander of the Maryland Defense Force Band and retired at the rank of Lt Colonel (MDDF) in the Maryland Military Department.
Brother Villanueva’s military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal, an Air Force Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, an Air Force Good Conduct Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Service Medal with one service star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Maryland Distinguished Service Cross, the State of Maryland Meritorious Service Medal and the State of Maryland Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
Jari Villanueva is a graduate of the Baltimore Public School system and earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1978 from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. In 1984 he received a Master of Music degree from Kent State University, Ohio. He is also a 2006 graduate of the Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.
From 1998 to 2010, Brother Villanueva was an adjunct professor in the Music Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he served as Director of Bands. A Civil War historian and re-enactor, Jari is an Artistic Director of the National Association for Civil War Brass Music, Inc., where he directs and leads The Federal City Brass Band and the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band, recreated regimental bands of the Civil War era. He also sounds bugle calls at many re-enactments. In addition, he is the music director for the National Civil War Field Music School where students learn to play fife, drum and bugle.
Brother Villanueva is also a member of the American Legion Post 109 in Arbutus, Maryland, the Air Force Musicians Association, the Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland Military Historical Society, and an associate member of the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He is married to Heather Faust and resides in Catonsville, Maryland.
To learn more about Brother Villanueva, check out his blog at tapsbugler.com
Photos provided courtesy of TAPS FOR VETERANS