They stood at attention, staring at the American flags that lined Oak Hill Cemetery.
They have heard the somber tune countless times in their lives. The music - played by Jeff Miller - contrasted with the quick, booming rifle shots of the 21-gun salute that preceded it.
But both rituals honor sacrifice.
"Taps especially brings back memories," said John Studdard, a longtime chaplain for American Legion Dorsey-Liberty Post 14 of Lawrence.
The early-morning rain Monday let up just in time for Lawrence's traditional Memorial Day ceremonies to honor veterans.
The gray clouds and wet weather may have made the crowds a little smaller than normal, but veteran organizers and supporters said they were still happy with the show of support.
Jerry Hanson, the legion post commander, said Memorial Day ceremonies and other events remembering veterans have been important for decades, including today with the country fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said that since World War II the public back home has not had to sacrifice as much during wartime, making it easier to be complacent about honoring members of the military.
During a speech, Hanson quoted retired Army officer and author Ralph Peters, who has said that war, although not desirable, is sometimes necessary.
"We need not agree in our politics or on the manner in which a given war is prosecuted, but we can't pretend that if only we laid down our arms all others would do the same," he said.
The legion honored eight post members who died in the last year: Ken Edwards, Everett Buhler, Fred E. Broeker, Loren E. Hadl, Dwight Regnier, Donald M. Luther, John R. Arensberg and Marvin R. Curtiss.
Don McDow, the master of ceremonies and a past post commander, said it was important to honor the sacrifice of those who "fought and died to keep our country free and preserve our way of life."
Many people after the ceremony crossed the street to Memorial Park Cemetery for the Veterans of Foreign Wars tribute. Many legionnaires also conducted a service at Clinton Cemetery.
Incoming VFW post commander Jerry Karr, a retired division chief with Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical, said the holiday can remind veterans of fallen soldiers, including a dying friend he held in Vietnam.
"They gave up all their tomorrows for our today," said Karr, who served in the U.S. Army.