Archive for Friday, November 11, 2005

Musician: Vets deserve real brass at funerals

November 11, 2005

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When Lawrence resident Curtis Marsh was burying his father in 2001, an unexpected visitor appeared at the military funeral: a boom box.

A member of the military honor guard placed it upon a folding chair and used it to play a recording of "Taps," the ceremonial song long played to lay soldiers to rest.

"I was surprised that the Army doesn't have buglers anymore," Marsh said.

They do now, at least in this area. Marsh takes his 1941 trumpet that his great-uncle played in a military band and travels to a military funeral one to two times per month to perform "Taps."

Marsh, who volunteers his time, will be busy today. He'll be playing at several events in Leavenworth to commemorate Veterans Day.

"I tell people that part of this volunteering is selfish," said Marsh, whose father and grandfather both served in the U.S. Army. "It really is a way to honor these soldiers. It is a very good feeling. The soldiers deserve it, the families deserve it, and I have been in their place.

"It is an integral part of saying goodbye for many of these people."

Vern Russell, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Lawrence, said finding musicians to play the tune can be difficult.

Lawrence resident Curtis Marsh was disappointed when, at the military funeral of his father, Curtis N. Marsh III, pictured at right, "Taps" was played on a tape recorder. Now Marsh volunteers to perform "Taps" at military funerals, playing on a trumpet that his great-uncle used in a military band in World War II.

Lawrence resident Curtis Marsh was disappointed when, at the military funeral of his father, Curtis N. Marsh III, pictured at right, "Taps" was played on a tape recorder. Now Marsh volunteers to perform "Taps" at military funerals, playing on a trumpet that his great-uncle used in a military band in World War II.

"A boom box or something like that kind of takes away from the ceremony," Russell said. "We always try real hard to have someone there."

Both men, though, said they understood the military's decision to cut back on keeping buglers on staff.

"In today's military, they have had to endure force reductions, so they have had to use their manpower elsewhere," Russell said.

Marsh said he does a few services in Lawrence and the Kansas City area, but primarily plays for services at Fort Leavenworth. He praises his employer, Kansas University Continuing Education, for allowing him to take time off to attend the services.

Curtis Marsh performs "taps" during a funeral service this summer at the National Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth.

Curtis Marsh performs "taps" during a funeral service this summer at the National Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth.

Although Marsh, who has been performing at the services since 2001, said he's honored to participate, he said the job could be emotionally draining.

"In the last two months, I have done two services for soldiers who have been less than 20 years old," Marsh said.

But the activity also has its lighter moments. British officers stationed at Fort Leavenworth asked him to play "Taps" in observance of Britain's Remembrance Day. It was only a couple of days before the event that Marsh realized that the British versions of "Taps" was different than the American version.

"They are not only very different, they are freaking hard," Marsh said. "I was really nervous that I wasn't going to be able to pull it off. But I think it went well. They asked me back."

Comments

sharron5rs 9 years, 6 months ago

Thank You for all the "Taps", to honor our loved ones. I know when my father died, that was so moving to hear .Dad loved this country, he fought hard in WWII. HE loved all the misic of all the military, but the Taps were his favorite I think. Thank you again .

c_doc77 9 years, 6 months ago

When my grampa died in Oklahoma, they did the boom box thing. I thought it was pretty weak, but had heard that was the way it was being done these days. According to an evening news program I watched a few months prior to the funeral, one reason for the lack of buglers is the fact that there just aren't very many buglers anymore. I wouldn't doubt if cutbacks had something to do with it, though. Just like I don't doubt that the deployment of the National Guard played a part in the disorganization of the relief efforts in the South following Katrina.

OmegaPaiN 9 years, 6 months ago

I used to play taps on a baritone at funerals in my home county when I was in junior high and early highschool. It wasn't a bugle or a trumpet, but it was live, and I really felt honored to be a part of the ceremony. I got to ride in a van with all the other veterans to and from the services (most WWII) and it was great to be around those amazing people.

Jamesaust 9 years, 6 months ago

I've noticed the "boombox" phenomena too. Its always a shock when someone or some organization is 100% lame, even if not surprising.

What next? Medals awarded by certificate instead of delivering the real thing?

badger 9 years, 6 months ago

You know, guys like this get it.

I think that in the political brouhaha about this and that war, a lot of people forget the fact that there are people in this world fully willing to die doing something that they believe is imperative to protecting the rights and freedoms of others, and that's something that Matters.

I have seen the boomboxes, and it makes me sad. However, I understand that from a fiscal point of view, cutting back a full-time bugler makes sense. I'd most want our military dead to be laid to rest with a human bugler, but if that's not an option I'd rather they have the song on a boombox than not at all.

Godot 9 years, 6 months ago

Thank you, Curtis. You are a champion in all things you do. Lawrence is a better place having you here.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 6 months ago

I know Curtis from my church, and I am not one bit surprised to learn of his voluntary efforts. And I am proud to know such a fellow. In today's world, a lot has changed in the attitudes of most folks regarding the military. When I was in the Navy, and we would return from deployment in the VIetnam war, the local scum would stand on the Golden Gate bridge and throw rotten fruit and vegitables at us as we passed under the bridge into San Francisco Bay. Today, there is much more respect regarded for the young folks who serve in the military. This voluntary service by Curtiss for those who have served and have died is most laudable and commendable. We did have a real bugler at my father's funeral, who was a 30 year veteran. And it was a stunning moment. Curtis, you are a man among men, a shining example of that duty, honor and service are all about and I am proud to know you and proud of what you do for our departed military veterans.

james bush 9 years, 6 months ago

Curtis, it's great that you are doing the services with the real brass! Thank you and thanks to Chad Lawhorn for making us all think about our vets. I wish I had said thanks every year on Nov 11 to all the WWll vets who I've known and now are passed on. I don't see any war's vets much but I'm going to try to remember to say thanks.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Marsh, THANK YOU! playing taps instead of turning on a boombox is indeed a real difference. I hope that our country might be able to organize some national system to make sure that taps does get played at every military funeral.

Devon Kissinger 9 years, 6 months ago

Thank you Curtis. There should be more folks like you. Now if we could get the 21 gun salute aimed at Fred Phelps and his ilk.

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