Veterans from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars gathered at the Burney Cemetery on Bailey Street on Armed Forces Day, Saturday May 19, to hold an “Echo Taps” ceremony and rifle salute as a special tribute to men and women in the U.S. military.
Armed Forces Day was instituted on August 21, 1949, by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson who served under President Harry Truman. Previously there had been separate single day celebrations for each branch of the military. The Truman administration unified all branches of the military under the Department of Defense.
Armed Forced Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May. The first official celebration was held on May 20, 1950. B-36 Bombers flew over state capitals, a march was led by more than 10,000 veterans and troops in Washington, D.C., and over 33,000 people participated in a New York City parade. President John F. Kennedy declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday in 1961.
Commander Jim Arveson welcomed several dozen people to the ceremony and acted as master of ceremonies. After the Pledge of Allegiance, Elizabeth Luck sang the National Anthem. Public Safety Chaplain Reverend Henry Winkelman led the invocation.
Commander Arveson then explained the meaning and history of Armed Services Day and “Taps.” “Taps” is a bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and at military funerals. The official military version is played by a single bugle or trumpet. “Echo Taps” is a cascading antiphonal taps played by multiple buglers for special memorial ceremonies. Arveson also read some of the lyrics that have been written to accompany the “Taps” melody. Bugler George Matthews was present to play “Taps” at the end of the program.
After his talk, Pastor Winkelman offered a closing prayer.
Honor Guard members, Martin McAbee, Steve Powell, Jim Ellis, Jimmy Cusick, Bob Van De Weerd, Herbert McKinney, and Dennis Lopez came to attention and fired a rifle salute.
Bugler George Matthews concluded the ceremony by playing “Taps.”
Boy Scout Leaders George Chapman, Cheri Chapman, and James Chapman and Scouts Thomas Chapman and Dedric Ugbinada from Burney Troop 38 also attended and participated in the celebration.