Protocol for Taps
Instruction for military and civilian
One question I get often is what to do when Taps is sounded. What exactly is the protocol? In a nutshell, it’s the same protocol as when you hear the national anthem.
Definition of Taps
Taps is sounded at funerals, memorial services and wreath laying ceremonies. It is also the last call played at US military bases in the evening.Â Performance consists of 24 notes sounded on a bugle or trumpet.Â Taps is performed by a solo bugler without accompaniment or embellishment.Â Although sometimes performed with an echo, Taps is really meant to be sounded by a single bugler.
At funerals, military honors follow a certain sequence dictated by tradition and protocol. Three rifle volleys are fired, followed by the sounding of Taps.Â The flag is then folded and presented to the Next-of-Kin.
Sometimes there is not a firing party available and Taps will be sounded upon the signal from the military or funeral home director.
The sequence at Arlington can be found here:
At memorial services or special eventsÂ Taps is usuallyÂ sounded toward the end of the program, usually before the benediction or dismissal. At wreath laying ceremonies, Taps is usually sounded after the wreath (or last one if several) is presented.
Conduct DuringÂ The Sounding of Taps
During a rendition of Taps at a military funeral, memorial service or wreath laying ceremony,
– All present not in uniform should stand at attention with the right hand over the heart;
– Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart;
– Individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of Taps and maintain that position until the last note (note: if you are inside and uncovered, you stand at attention);
– Veterans and active-duty service-members not in uniform mayÂ render the hand salute;
-If you are inside and not in uniform it is proper to stand during Taps
When Taps is sounded in the evening as the final call of the day at military bases, salutes are not required.
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