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Tom Day
Bugles Across America
Berwyn, Illinois

A Patriot's Gift

Tom Day

Tom Day, a former marine, has dedicated his life to maintaining American patriotism and a military tradition of a personal nature. He was a "bugle boy" at age 7 and first played "Taps" at a military burial in 1950 when he was 10, knowing only that his reason for doing so was to help keep alive a tradition that his veteran father held dear. In time, he understood the significance of this action as he attended more military funerals. The bugle holds a prominent place in American history. During battle, bugles stood ready to sound the "charge" or "recall" and to sound "Taps" at the close of the day. "Taps" is also played to honor fallen veterans at their funerals.

Tom founded Bugles Across America in 2000 when Congress passed legislation providing that veterans had the right to at least two uniformed military people to fold the American flag and play "Taps" on a CD player. Tom took issue with the idea of this significant tune being played on a boom box and strongly felt that in recognition of their service, the veterans and their families deserved having the option of a live rendition of "Taps" played by a real person. "That vision and sound go together and will stick in family members' minds for the rest of their lives," Tom said. "I just think it's a necessary thing to do." Within 23 months, he recruited 1,800 volunteer buglers for his cause. Tom himself had played at over 500 funerals by the time he blew "Taps" for his own father’s burial over six years ago.

Tom Day sold one of his horns to finance the casting of small commemorative medals for anyone who signed up. He spent his own money to print brochures, buy old dress uniforms and restore bugles that he found in pawn shops - all while working his full-time job. In addition, Tom formed his own Color Guard, (The Black Sheep Squadron), which marches in parades and at other public events; he speaks to fraternal groups and schoolchildren about the flags of our country (he has a collection of 23 historic American flags); and he hosts a program called "The Live History of the Drum and Bugle."Tom’s unselfish public service work has garnered many awards, and over 300 articles have been written about his efforts, including a front page feature in The Wall Street Journal. His story was also presented on CNN. In an era where electronic devices and expediency are rampant, it is refreshing to have people like Tom Day who go to great lengths to do things the traditional way.


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