Music For Lost Heroes: Man Learns The Trumpet So No Veteran Is Buried Without “Taps.”

We all have our reasons for trying something new.

Gary Marquardt of Excelsior, Minnesota grew up in a military family. His father served in World War II, and with the Vietnam War happening while he was in high school, he fully expected to enlist in the service after graduation. Fate had other plans, however.

Gary collapsed with a bleeding ulcer in his senior year, rendering him unfit for military service. Of course he felt relieved because he’d already lost several friends to the war, but with the relief came a crushing sense of guilt.

“I think ashamed is the word,” he recalled. “I was ashamed I was happy I didn’t have to go.”

Gary carried that guilt with him throughout his life. When he was 66, the newly retired Gary went to a military funeral for a friend. As he watched the service, he was appalled to hear a canned recording of “Taps” being played instead of having a live bugler in attendance. He decided on the spot to learn how to play the trumpet so that he could honor service personnel at their funerals as a way to atone for never serving himself.

Gary launched himself into learning to play. He practiced morning, noon, and night, irking both his wife and his neighbors.

“It was awful,” his wife Joanie said with a laugh. “Seemed like every 15 minutes, it was all the time. We were all hoping he would get better. And then he did.”

With some lessons and a lot of practice, Gary soon became an accomplished trumpeter. Now, there’s not a day that goes by when Gary doesn’t go to a military cemetery to pay tribute to fallen soldiers. Each time he visits, Gary places a coin on the gravestone, says the veteran’s name out loud, and plays “Taps” on his trumpet.

“I love to hear ‘Taps’ echo through the cemetery,” he explained. “I’m doing something for these guys. It’s kind of like being among friends.”

“It just seemed that after what they’ve given that wasn’t much to ask,” he continued.

After a few years, Gary joined Bugles Across America, an organization that dispatches volunteer buglers to play at veteran’s funerals.

“I don’t play perfect every time — I really try to,” said Gary. “But I’m there representing all of us and it comes from the heart.”

Gary gives selflessly of himself to bring honor to these fallen veterans. We’d say he’s found a beautiful way to support the military after all!

Watch the video below to hear Gary playing, and don’t forget to share.

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