A final musical tribute
July 20, 2009
Fort Bliss, Texas -- Standing at a distance, Spc. Allanphoe H. Lagrisola of the 62nd Army Band prepares his instrument and readies himself mentally for a performance of Taps.
At the Fort Bliss National Cemetery, a family has gathered beneath the swelter of the El Paso afternoon sun to pay their final respects and to mourn their loss. Two members of the Air Force Honor Guard have travelled from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., to render military honors. Made an official bugle call after the Civil War, Taps is played to signify "lights out" or a time for rest but is better recognized as a poignant tribute played at service members' memorial ceremonies.
"The underlying importance [of Taps] is that of a grateful nation honoring those who have served a cause greater than their individual selves," said Warrant Officer Joseph M. Newby, from Indianapolis, 62nd Army Band commander.
The 62nd Army Band provides musical support to a myriad of military ceremonies and functions. Additionally, five buglers from its ranks are rotated through the Fort Bliss National Cemetery to perform Taps.
"Performing Taps at a funeral service is one of the most, if not the most, important function of an Army band," said Newby.
Although Lagrisola has been in the Army three years, he has played the bugle for more than 20 years. He immigrated to the United States from the Philippines one month before terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. His decision to join the Army was based on a desire to provide stability for his family, and music proved to be a perfect outlet for his patriotism.
"Playing music is one of the things that I love doing," said Lagrisola.
Even though there are many Soldiers from Fort Bliss currently deployed to combat zones around the world, Lagrisola said the majority of the time he is called to play Taps is for heroes of former conflicts. He said he once performed Taps at seven services in a single day.
"I think of playing the bugle as my way to express gratitude to fallen Soldiers. I try to do my best every time," said Lagrisola.
After the conclusion of Taps, Lagrisola stands at attention while the two Airmen carefully fold and present the American flag to the family. All three of the service members leave in unison; the only difference being that Lagrisola had been heard and not seen.