Colorado’s Mark Stallins travels across the country playing taps at the graves of America’s fallen heroes.
“Bug players have a saying for those 24 notes: The bugler is the most important man in the United States military, more important than any general, admiral, president,” Stallins said on a rainy day in Honolulu, Hawaii, while visiting the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. “A family will never forget these 24 notes, they will forget everything else about a funeral service, but they will never forget these notes.”
Stallins, a retired US Navy yeoman, knows that every grave has a story. In his gleaming white uniform, he particularly hovered over a grave depicting a tragedy from 80 years ago when the Arizona was directly hit at Pearl Harbor.
“The explosion actually went below deck and they literally lost 1,100 men in a second,” he said. “I mean, just like that. Path. That’s 25 of the men they lost that day.”
For the past seven years, Stallins has been playing taps in cemeteries across the country.
The very first grave was that of his father.
“In 2015 I went to Fort Logan to play for my dad after I retired from the Navy and he’s in Englewood, Colorado,” he said.
Since then he hasn’t stopped and will play hundreds of times on Memorial Day alone.
Stallins also runs a non-profit organization called the National Tour of Honor dedicated to the ceremonial trumpet playing for these fallen heroes. Donations allow Stallins to tour the country.
“Memorial Day to me is a person’s willingness to sacrifice everything of their being so that other people can live freely and live the lives of their dreams,” Stallins said. “Whether it’s my dad or if it’s one of these people here, I really want them to at least know that they will never be forgotten. I will always honor her. I will always respect them and I love every single person I play for.”
That drives him to play a song that’s been around since the Civil War.
It may be simple, but what it moves in us is not.
Solace, pain, glory and tragedy. It is fleeting and yet eternal.
A total of 24 pieces of paper commemorate the fallen heroes on this day of remembrance.
To learn more, visit the National Honor Tour website.
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https://abc7.com/memorial-day-2022-mark-stallins-us-navy-member-playing-taps-for-military/11909454/ Memorial Day 2022: Mark Stallins plays taps for America’s fallen heroes with the National Honor Tour