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Military, fire, police and Rosie Riveters receive the final greeting
Dawn Mitchell, dawn.mitchell@indystar.com

As the sun begins to set, the melancholic sound of a bugler playing "Taps" milks the ancient brick buildings in the Martinsville, Indiana square. [19659004] A small crowd consisting mainly of veterans who are attentive, listening as names read followed by a silver bell. Then the mourned tune becomes the game as pedestrians stop and listen in quiet respect.

"Anyone who has served our nation, police, fire, military, MIA is recovered and our sweet old Rosie Riveters, we read their names to honor their memories," said Bugler Bruce McKee.

The ceremony began when a call went out to buggies across the country to greet "Taps" for seven days at 7 am in the county square to honor the memory of the 26 people killed during Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012.

After the last night, a woman approached McKee and asked if he would sound "Taps" in memory of his father, who did not receive the credit at his funeral. [19659005] Names just kept coming.

& # 39; Taps & # 39; Every Friday, for 330 weeks

Taps in the square began that night and have been in over 330 consecutive Fridays in rain, snow or heat.

Jerry Vest reads names. Randy Sichting rings bells. McKee serves as the main bugler, and Jim Martin and Zondra Kale-Griffin serve as echo buglers.

"They are the hardest 24 notes to play because you play it for the fallen and their families," McKee said.

The voice is believed to be a revision of a French buggy signal called a "tattoo" which was a "last call" for soldiers to stop drinking and returning to their units.

Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield arranged the current version to signal "light out". Bugler Oliver Norton was the first to sound the call.

The melody was also adopted by the Confederate army.

Today, "Taps" signals the end of military burials, wreath ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and ceremonies on the beaches of Normandy.

"Taps" is today's last call on US military bases worldwide.

McKee is the founder and director of Indiana Spirit of 45, who provides live "cranes" for military honors, memorials, holidays, and private services.

"It's the final salute," McKee said. "The last 24 notes ever played for a brother or sister who served. It's heartbreaking. Even as a bugler, I have to say a prayer and I'm trying to find things to focus on so I don't look at the family because of it. of the emotions there. "

McKee notes the bugs" live tapes "while most use a bugle with an MP3 recording.

"When using digital, it is to play & # 39; Taps & # 39 ;," McKee said. "When we do it as individuals, it is sounding Taps. & # 39; It comes directly from the heart and not a triple battery."

McKee's family has deep military roots dating back to the Revolutionary War. His father, Robin, served in the army during World War II and McKee served in Air Force.

He could not play at his father's funeral

McKee has a regret: he could not play "Cranes" at his father's funeral.

"I had cancer surgery on my tongue and neck," McKee said. "When they did the surgery, they said I would never talk normally, sing or ever play the bug again."

McKee turned out wrong.

The weekly tribute is particularly poignant to Taylor Downing of Martinsville. Her father, Army Pfc. Stephen P. Downing was killed in battle in Ramadi in Iraq in 2004.

"It's great that people stop taking time to remember these people," Downing said. "They gave everything for our freedom."

And McKee remembers those who are gone.

"Life and service is great. That's why we can stand out in the open and do it without worrying. We have the freedom to do it because of them," McKee said, "this is our way to say "thank you" to the loved ones. "

Follow Dawn Mitchell Twitter: @ dawn_mitchell61

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