Ever since Tim Russert died, the most significant of the Sunday morning talking head shows has been Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace about whom it can be fairly said that while MR. Wallace still works at CBS, his son is gaining and MR. Wallace should be proud.
Last Sunday, he repeated a Power Player of the Week about a fellow named Tom Day, a 69 year old Marine veteran who still looks pretty good in his uniform.
Day is a bugler.
Back in 2000, Congress passed a law which said that any veteran requesting a military funeral was entitled to two representatives to play taps, and, with the thanks of a grateful nation, fold the flag for presentation to the next of kin. There is (and should be) no higher honor for anyone who has worn the uniform of our armed forces.
The problem was that there simply weren’t enough buglers.
They sent people with boomboxes. They sent people with phony bugles which had electronic inserts. If that sounds like a tacky and cheesy way to honor those who served the post powerful nation on the face of the Earth and whose express mission is to keep her free, it most certainly is.
Day took great offense.
And like many Americans, was not only offended when he saw something like this but sat down and did something about it.
He founded Bugles Across America (www.buglesacrossamerica.org) which now has over 5,000 volunteer horn players who will happily play at a veteran’s funeral. He gives away bugles, recruits buglers and dispatches them upon the request from a family.
Taps has 24 notes. It may not seem like a big deal to civilians, but it is the military’s way of saying, “Job well done. Thanks for your service.” And it means a lot to anyone who has ever served.
Given the aging of the World War II vets and the Korean and Viet Nam vets, the statisticians who follow these things are anticipating over 500,000 veterans to die every year for the next seven years.
Somehow, boomboxes and electronic horn inserts do not seem appropriate.
It should say something about Fox News Sunday’s viewers that after the piece on Day first aired in May, they donated over $100,000 to the organization.
You can tell a lot about the soul of a nation by the way it honors those who served it.
We certainly lost our bearings during the Viet Nam war.
That it took as long as it did to have a Viet Nam Memorial in a nation which routinely memorializes the victims of terrorist attacks said a lot.
It is people like Tom Day who have helped us regain our bearings.
It is now common to see people in airports coming up to soldiers in transit and thanking them for their service.
That didn’t happen back in the 70s—largely because it was not fashionable amongst those who loathed the military, even though it was the military which gave them the freedom to loath anyone.
Some of those people are now what passes for civilian leadership.
Fortunately, we have real civilian leadership in the form of people like Tom Day who do what Americans are famous for doing—figuring out a way to do the right thing without any money or help from the government.
As a counterpoint to today’s Congress and White House, that’s what America is about.