On behalf of Taps for Veterans, thank you so much for being part of “A Bugle Call Remembered: Taps at the Funeral of President John F. Kennedy” marking the 50th anniversary of the Keith Clark’s rendition of our National Song of Farewell. 24 States and the District of Columbia were represented with buglers coming from as far as Alaska and California. If you have photos please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will start making a photo album for all to view. Click on the photo to take you to the gallery:
It was a memorable two days starting with the trip to the JFK Exhibit at the Newseum in downtown Washington. Fifty participants viewed the exhibit on the 6th floor which included video presentations and the display of a drum used at the funeral as well as the shirt Lee Harvey Oswald wore when he was arrested and the camera used by Abraham Zapruder. The two-hour visit began with a brief tour by one of the curators and a question and answer session set up especially for us by the kind folks at the Newseum. It ended with an impromptu concert with trumpets on the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Ave in front. The brief concert included trumpet quartet music and was well received by onlookers, the staff and the other buglers and families.
Our next event was the reception at the Brucker Hall- the US Army Band building on Fort Myer in the evening. Almost 140 buglers and their guests as well as members of the original USAF Pipe Band gathered for a two-hour reception to meet and greet. It was a great way to chat with others especially in light of the hectic pace of the next day’s activities. Jari Villanueva greeted the participants on behalf of Taps For Veterans and introduced the commander of the band, Colonel Thomas Palmatier. The colonel welcomed everyone on behalf of the band and spoke briefly to the gathered crowd. Nancy Joy McColley, the eldest daughter of Keith Clark, then spoke briefly expressing her feelings to those who traveled so far to honor her dad. On display for the evening courtesy of TFV was a collection of Bach bugles from Jari Villanueva’s collection, the drum used at the Kennedy funeral by John Bosworth of the USAF Pipe Band and the original uniform worn by Keith Clark 50 years ago. We also were fortunate to have Rebecca Goldfield who contributed the story of Clark to: “District Comics: An Unconventional History of DC” Her husband played in the Army Band during the funeral. She brought copies of her book to purchase. It was a great evening!
We also had JFK/Keith Clark coins which are still available for sale by clicking here
A purchase will help defray the costs of the two day event
The next morning the buglers gathered at Arlington to participate in the ceremony “A Bugle Call Remembered: Taps at the Funeral of President John F. Kennedy” that featured the US Army Band, the Joint Service Armed Forces Color Guard, the original members of the USAF Pipe Band, and guest speakers Mr. Jack Lechner, Deputy Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, Nancy Joy McColley, Daughter of Sgt. Keith Clark and Mr. James Swanson, Historian and author of “End of Days” Each speaker spoke eloquently about Arlington, the president, Keith Clark and the reason we gathered on this overcast fall day. The audience was treated to a rendition of “Mist Covered Mountains” by the USAF Pipe Band as well as “Fairest Lord Jesus” performed by the US Army Band-Keith Clark’s favorite hymn. Recognized during the ceremony was Mr. Ed Hunter who 50 years ago wrote to Keith Clark. The ceremony ended with a massed performance of Taps led by the Director of the U.S. Marine Band, Colonel Michael Colburn. Following the ceremony photos were taken of all participants.
YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE RECORDING OF THE HARMONIZED TAPS BY CLICKING BELOW Thanks to Rich Yndestad for providing this recording
At twelve noon buglers located through the cemetery sounded Taps at selected locations. Some at monuments in Arlington, many at a grave of a loved one or dear friend or comrade. It was a transcendental moment to hear the echoing of the 100 bugles throughout the cemetery!
The Clark family departed for section 34 where they spent some quiet time at the grave of Sgt Clark. We arrived in time to hear Steven Bow sound Taps there and it was quite a beautiful to hear the call reverberating around “Pershing’s Hill” Section 34 also is the final resting place of many U.S. Army Band members including George Meyers and Pat Mastroleo who were buglers who sounded Taps for the Unknown at the Tomb-Meyers in 1958 and Mastroleo in 1984. Nearby in section 18 is Frank Witchey who sounded the call for the WWI Unknown Soldier in 1921.
Family and buglers gathered at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 1 PM to watch the changing of the Guard. At 1:15 the daughters of Keith Clark participated in a wreath laying ceremony. I stood by Mrs. Clark in the front row and I was proud and honored to escort her here. Taps was sounded by Army bugler MSG Allyn Van Patten. It was a short but emotional ceremony. The family departed the cemetery at that time to return back to the hotel. It was a long day for Mrs. Clark who is 90. Next was a showing of the film The Bugler’s Statue: Capturing a Moment in the auditorium of the Women’s Memorial. The showing was hosted by the film producer, MSG Les Owen of the U.S. Army Band. This movie is sure to win an award.
Afterwards, buglers had a chance to meet SSG Jesse Tubb, the model for the film at the Welcome Center. SSG Tubb was gracious to stand for photos. If you have photos please send them to email@example.com and I will start making a photo album for all to view. All in all a great two days. On behalf of Taps for Veterans and the family of Keith Clark, let me express my profound gratitude to all for the sacrifices the participants made to attend the events and the ongoing work buglers do each and every day to server our veterans.