Mon May 30, 2011
The Call of Taps.
By FLO JONIC
PROVIDENCE, RI – Most of us spend one - perhaps two days - a year honoring the men and women who have served the armed forces. But for one Narragansett man paying homage to veterans is a full time job.
If you hear the soulful sound of "taps" at Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter there's a very good chance 65-year-old Michael Jackson of Narragansett is producing the sound on his trumpet.
Although Congress authorized the playing of a recorded version of "taps" at military funerals several years ago, Jackson is one of a band called "Buglers Across America" who believe a live playing of the hallowed 24-note tune is more respectful.
"I equate it to looking into the eyes of a mannequin," he says. "I'm a little biased because I'm a live player but you can tell the difference."
Jackson, a retired Air Force sergeant, plays 3 to 5 funerals a day six days a week. He gets a stipend, but it's just enough to cover his travel expenses and lunch out. He says the grateful families keep him going.
"Well," he says. "They thank me every day and that makes my day when a family member comes up and says thank you for your service and for playing live bugle."
Jackson has played nearly 47-hundred funerals over the past seven years and says he's not quitting until his lungs give out.
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