A Taps Moment: Taps is bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and at military funerals by the United States Armed Forces. (Reveille is played as dawn as the flag is being raised and is notice to get moving)

The bugle call sounded as I was walking to my car after swimming my laps at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station San Diego swim training tank. If you are on a military base at dusk you will hear Taps being played. It is played as the flag is being lowered and signals the end of the work day. If you are outside walking, or standing, you must come to attention during Taps and offer a hand salute if you are a military member or veteran. If you are a civilian or family member coming to attention is the proper response.

I came to attention and saluted. I was facing West toward the Airfield Base Operations. While I could not see the flag pole I visualized the flag being lowered as the bugle call played. I held a sharp salute, stood a little taller, and straighter, and then gave silent thanks for all those who sacrificed both limb and life to defend this great nation. What an honor to be standing where I was looking West at the setting sun, reflecting on the great courage and sacrifice of our military members, both past and present.

At the end of the bugle call I held my salute and sent it farther West….all the way across the great Pacific to the Island of Hong Kong, where at that very moment brave citizens, young and old, were fighting and dying for their democratic freedoms. I wondered how my fellow Americans could be so lightly concerned about such a momentous and watershed moment in history.

I wondered still why there was no reporting, no protests, no knee taking by our famous athletes who just recently protested against police violence, racism, and bigotry…in America! I just stood there holding my salute and kept thinking about their bravery. Sacrifice, even more so the ultimate sacrifice, for a great cause is the most noble and eternal of all human acts.

Michael Hawke