The other day I attended a funeral followed by the burial ceremony. The deceased was one of the Greatest Generation: He served in the Pacific during historic battles with
in World War Two. Japan
So it was a fitting and quite poignant moment when a sailor clad in dress whites raised his bugle to blow taps.
Tears welled up in the eyes of the assembled grieving crowd as those mournful notes echoed into the outer reaches of the cemetery.
Then I noticed something odd. The bugler wasn't blowing. The notes came out of the end of the shiny brass instrument but without so much as a breath exhaled by the sailor.
Later I asked one of the cemetery attendants and he confirmed my suspicions.
It was a fake bugle.
The gloriously polished bugle was incapable of creating real music. Embedded in the horn end was a digital chip and speaker that played the somber tune perfectly---every time you hit the "play" button.
At the gravesite no one knew. The sailor faced away from the gathered faithful.
Up to now, I've told no one.
I called a local VFW Chapter and learned the shocking truth: The shortage of buglers in the military service has given way to this digital trickery. I was told that this chicanery has been going on for years.
No one gets hurt and no one knows the difference, he said. Why miss the chance to provide a cherished moment for a widow remembering her fallen hero?
Which is worse, he asked, a burial with the digital substitute or no bugle at all?
He made a good point. I yield to technology to create a special moment, especially since almost nobody would know the truth.
Just one last thing: Pretend buglers, puff out your cheeks occasionally like Louis Armstrong or Dizzy Gillespie. Fake it well. Our fallen deserve at least that much.
Some of us are watching.