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Local Firefighter Honors Fallen Veterans With Live Bugle

Photo of Brandon Graff courtesy of the Springfield Fire Department

Most people know that the solemn song “Taps” is traditionally played at military funerals. But you might not be aware that often, at veteran’s funerals, the melody is played through an MP3 player, not live. One Springfield firefighter is honoring veterans the old-fashioned way, as KSMU’s Shannon Bowers reports.

In 2008, Brandon Graff volunteered for the Military Honors Team as a reserve. When he was assigned to be the bugle player, he was nervous because he had not played a brass instrument since high school. However, he was told it wouldn’t be an issue.

“They told me it would be okay because there was an MP3 player that fit into the bell of the horn, you just pushed a button and it plays taps for you,” said Graff.

Coming from a military family, that struck a nerve with Graff. He knew he had the basic musical knowledge to pick up the instrument so, he went online and bought an old Boy Scout bugle for himself. It only took him about three months to master “Taps."

“I just wanted to provide that service because I feel that strongly about that human element that is included in playing the live bugle,” said Graff.

Once he saved up enough money, Graff bought a professional bugle and started working for Buglers Across America, an organization devoted to having a live musician play at military funerals, rather than using a recording.

Graff has been playing at these funerals for five years now and also plays at Memorial Day celebrations.

“In this day in age, everything is so fast paced, but people don’t have time to practice and provide things that are live. It sounds corny, but the live element makes that honoring of that veteran that much better. It means a lot to the family,” said Graff

Whenever a veteran of the armed services dies, his or her family has the right to a military service, which includes the presentation of the flag and the playing of "Taps" at no charge to the family. Having a live bugler perform is per request.

For KSMU News, I’m Shannon Bowers.