Mark Hayward's City Matters: 'Taps' is soundtrack of summer ceremony
The 100 Days of Remembrance ceremony is performed with the playing of taps by students from Manchester West High School ROTC at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Manchester. The playing of taps will be performed every night from Memorial Day to Sept. 11. West High ROTC members Lieutenant Sean Liles and Tim Joyce perform taps at the Mount Calvary monument. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)
Steps are slow and measured. Motormouths and loudmouths drop their volume a few notches. What seems like a half hour turns out to be only 10 minutes once a mourner hits the road and resumes his daily routine, leaving the world of eternity for one where minutes fly past like a fastball.
Snapped to attention, two uniformed men face one another and turn toward a small crowd of graying veterans and their spouses. One salutes, the other lifts a bugle. Taps wafts across the monument-lined terrain. The second soldier then retreats behind the Calvary monument and produces a softer echo of the original tune.
“I got my grandfather in the mausoleum; he was in World War II. Being around all these vets makes me proud,” he said.
The gatherings have been going on at Mount Calvary since 2009.
As the hour approaches, the veterans and their wives line up. The youths walk to the base of the Calvary monument and begin the ceremony.
The event is solemn in its simplicity. There are no speeches or cheers. No rifles or color guards. No marching rhythms barked out by a sergeant.
Taylor said it’s a compromise he had to make. “A ceremonial horn or boom box is not correct at a military funeral. It drives me crazy,” said Taylor, a former member of the Manchester Muchachos, a drum and bugle corps.
They share their respect for those who fell in battle. And they develop friendships. For example, the Korean War veteran Labrie drove the Junior ROTC cadet Liles to and from the cemetery on Tuesday night.
Mark Hayward’s City Matters appears Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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