The story of "Taps" began in the hot Virginia summer of 1862, when the Union Army was stalled in its attempt to advance on the Confederate capital of Richmond. General Daniel Butterfield, who was constantly coming up with improvements for Army life, got the idea of devising a new bugle call to mark the end of day.
With the help of his brigade's bugler, Butterfield came up with "Taps." No one is sure of the exact date the 24-note call was composed, but we do know the bugler, Private Oliver Willcox Norton of the 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, played it that evening.
"The music was beautiful on that still summer night and was heard far beyond the limits of our brigade," Norton later wrote.
This afternoon the buglers at Arlington played "Taps" as a large ensemble, and then they fanned out through the enormous cemetery, playing the call at particular tombstones.
According to a story at CNN, 13-year-old Alan Tolbert of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, chose to play "Taps" at the grave of Johnny Clem, a legendary drummer boy of the Civil War.
The Washington Post also covered the event at Arlington National Cemetery.
Photograph: General Daniel Butterfield, composer of "Taps"/Library of Congress
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