Hometown Hero 'Taps' His Musical Side to Salute Military Families

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The bugle's hollowed notes of Taps are sure to stir up deep emotions during military funerals. Honors are given to the fallen and respects are paid to their families.

"I'm proud that I can provide that for the family," says Brandon Graff. "It's a tough time for the family and you want it done right."

Graff is a Springfield firefighter and he's in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He was first assigned to a funeral detail years ago, before he learned to play the bugle.

"They said, 'don't worry, it's got an mp3 player in it and you push the bottom and you'll be fine,'" he recalls. "I had no idea, so we went ahead and did it, but it just felt awkward just to stand there with an mp3 player playing this song for me."

Ceremonial bugles have recorded versions of Taps in them. They are used when a live bugler is not available for military funeral ceremonies.

"It's in part that there's so many the ratio is off," adds Graff. "There's not very many buglers to the amount of services that are out there and it's also because it's kind of a dying art."

While considered dignified, Graff didn't feel right using the ceremonial bugle, so he bought his own bugle and learned to play. Now he volunteers to perform Taps at funerals and military services.

"The human element. It means a lot more to the families when they know that you've put time and effort  into actually playing it live."

Whether he's serving our community battling fires, making rescues or serving our country, Graff will always make time to be there for military families.

"You only get one shot those family members who want to see their loved one properly honored and that gives me the ability to provide that for them."

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