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Buglers to celebrate 150th anniversary of taps

Oak Creek man will be among them

April 23, 2012

Oak Creek - Resident Bill Seaman is one of three Wisconsinites who will go to Arlington National Cemetery next month to sound taps, the 24-note haunting tune played at dusk and military funerals.

"It's the 150th anniversary of taps, our national song of remembrance," he said.

Seaman, 54, is honored to be attending the May 19 event. It is expected that 200 buglers will gather to sound taps at the Virginia cemetery, which falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army and honors those who have served the nation.

The buglers will play en masse as well as rolling taps, which is similar to a round.

Seaman's interest in the bugle, and taps, was piqued when he was asked to play at a relative's funeral. Then he learned about an organization called Bugles Across America, which was founded in 2000 by a man named Tom Day.

That year, Congress passed a bill that guaranteed veterans would receive a flag ceremony at their funerals, as well as the playing of taps. However, a recorded version of taps, it was decided, could be played if a bugler was not available. Day formed Bugles Across America to make sure one was.

The national organization has about 7,500 buglers, and Seaman is director of the state group.

"The founder, Tom Day, called me one day and asked me if I knew anyone who wanted to be state director," Seaman said. "I hesitated a bit and said, 'Sure, I'll be it.' "

That was in 2006, and Seaman's been playing at military funerals from Milwaukee to Green Bay and places in between.

"Every year, I put on some miles," he said.

Sometimes, the funerals are personal.

"Last November, I played for my father," he said. "I played for my mother - she wasn't in the service so I played 'Amazing Grace.' "

Seaman is not a military man. And his interest in American history is recent.

Yet, he said, he was drawn to taps and the mission of Bugles Across America because of the sacrifice veterans have made.

"Some of these details, they show so much honor," he said. "It's nice to be a part of that.

"It's important," he added. "And I'd like to get involved with younger people because it should be carried on."

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