May 23, 2011
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan. It is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen soldiers of the Civil War. Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. To help remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in December, 2000, which asks that at 3:00 p.m. local time, all Americans pause for a moment of remembrance and respect by having a period of silence or listening to TAPS.
When we think of TAPS, we associate it with the burial of a soldier. It is also played on military bases nightly to indicate that it is "lights out." TAPS is a variation of an earlier bugle call known as the "Scott Tattoo." The present arrangement was done by Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, an American Civil War general. How did TAPS come to be associated with military funerals? One historical account of TAPS being used was at a funeral during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. Captain John Tidball ordered it played at the burial of one of his cannoneers. It was unsafe to fire the customary three volleys over the grave due to the close proximity of the enemy. The custom, thus originated, was taken up throughout the Army of the Potomac and finally confirmed by orders.