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UCLA Magazine Fall 2003
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Fall 2003 Bruin Walk

Answering the call

By Cynthia Lee

Answering the call
Photography by Jonah Light

Whenever Jens Lindemann hears Taps, its haunting melody, crystallized in only 24 notes, has the power to move him. So when the UCLA music professor and international trumpet soloist heard of frustrated families of veterans being unable to find buglers to play Taps at the funerals of loved ones, he was appalled.

“I have no military history,” Lindemann says. “But as a performing artist, I find it insulting that there’s no live body around to do this. Is this the best we can do for veterans and their families?”

In the past, buglers were provided by the military. But in 2000, legislation was passed to allow Taps to be played on a CD because of the scarcity of horn players. There are even fake bugles, Lindemann says disgustedly, that have a recording of Taps in their tips so that anyone can “play” one.

The blow to tradition motivated Tom Day, a former military trumpeter, to form “Bugles Across America,” a Chicago-based nonprofit organization of 2,050 volunteer horn players, men and women, willing to play Taps at veterans’ funerals. After talking to his 10 UCLA trumpet students about volunteering, Lindemann and his corps of Bruins joined Day’s group. To support the UCLA contingent, Yamaha Corporation of America is donating a specially engraved trumpet to be used for the funerals.

While the UCLA contingent waits for its first call-up, Lindemann is planning to ask other horn players in the UCLA Bruin Marching Band and at other universities to volunteer.

Says Adam Bhatia, a third-year trumpet-performance major at UCLA: “I consider it a great honor to be among the many trumpeters who have responded to this wonderful cause.

“Veterans have put their lives on the line and need to be honored with a military funeral,” Bhatia continues. “The playing of Taps is just as significant as the presentation of the flag to a family member or a 21-gun salute.” For more information:

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