Inspired by the service of her great-grandfather, a World War II veteran, 16-year-old Katie Prior has made it her mission to make sure every veteran is honored with a live performance of the bugle call “Taps” at their funeral. A tradition dating back to the American Civil War, the playing of “Taps” is often considered one of the most moving parts of a veteran’s funeral; however, with over 1,500 veterans passing away each day and not enough military buglers available, a recorded version is now commonly used. To give as many veterans as possible a live performance as a final tribute, this Oklahoman Mighty Girl decided to recruit high school and young adult trumpeters from around the U.S. to perform at local funerals. Since founding the Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps, she has enlisted 120 young trumpeters in 30 states to carry on this important tradition and honor local veterans, including at recent Memorial Day events. To Katie, performing at such events and services is a privilege: “You are getting to pay tribute to someone that you may not even know,” she says. “You, a stranger, are getting to honor someone who went out and fought for your country.”
Katie first learned about the significance of Taps, which can be performed on either bugle or trumpet, shortly after she started playing the trumpet: “My great-grandfather, a WWII veteran, was in hospice care. My family talked about how great it would be if I could play Taps at his funeral,” she says. “Sadly, he passed away before I had the chance to learn the notes.” It wasn’t until five years later that Katie learned how often recordings have to be used for funerals, which is when she decided to take action.
She founded the Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps (YTTP), a non-profit organization, as her Girl Scout Gold Award project. The YTTC offers both in-person workshops and online training not just in the performance of Taps, but also on important details of military and funeral etiquette. The volunteers, who are all between the ages of 14 and 23, perform free of charge upon request by veteran families or funeral homes in their area. Many of them also played at events around the country in honor of Veterans Day today. For Katie, who herself has played at numerous funerals, each playing honors both the veteran being buried and her inspiration for starting the Corps: “I wish I would have gotten to play taps for [my great-grandfather] but I’d like to think that every time I play Taps at someone else’s funeral, I am in part playing it for him as well.”
To learn how to volunteer for the Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps, visit her website at http://trumpetandtaps.org
For books to encourage your own children’s interest in making a difference in their community, check out our blog post, “Making an Impact: Mighty Girl Books About Charity and Community Service,” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10983
For an inspiring book for teens filled with practical advice on how to change the world, check out “Be A Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters” for ages 12 and up at http://www.amightygirl.com/be-a-changemaker
And, for books for children and teens that honor the service of women in the military, check out our blog post “The Price of Peace: A Mighty Girl Recognizes Veterans” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=12356