The Civil War general credited with bringing taps to his troops to signal the end of the day was remembered at his alma mater on Monday as his tune was played to honor others from Union College who died fighting for their country.
A small group of students, faculty and veterans gathered around a flagpole near the center of the Union campus and bowed their heads as Michael Gillin, a sophomore and member of the college Jazz Ensemble, sounded the tune that Daniel Adams Butterfield of the class of 1849 asked his bugler to play at the end of each day during the Peninsular Campaign of 1862 in Virginia.
Historians believe that Butterfield, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Battle of Gaines Mill, revised an earlier bugle call to produce the tune now known as taps.
Monday's afternoon gathering was the first formal Memorial Day observance on campus in recent years.
“It's important to recognize, in particular, those individuals who gave their lives in service of their country,” said Dwight Wolf, a Vietnam War veteran who is associate dean for academic services at Union.
Also attending the service was Army Spc. Caleb Bower, a junior who is a veteran of the war in Iraq.
The young reservist was called up at the end of the first term of his sophomore year and returned in January of last year. He spent a year working in a supply yard where food and water were distributed to U.S. troops throughout Iraq.
“Everyone in our unit made it back home. It was a blessing,” he said. Yet the 22-year-old physics and music major said he finds the sound of taps especially touching now that he has seen active duty overseas.
“It certainly has a little bit more power to it,” he said of the call. “It's one thing watching the movies or television, but to really understand even a little bit what these people had to go through, . . . It's a lot more powerful.”