ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KSDK) - There are certain standards for a military funeral: the three-volley rifle salute, the flag folding and presentation, and the sounding of taps. But this week, live buglers in Missouri were silenced.
At no cost for families, the Missouri National Guard has provided live buglers for such ceremonies since 1999. But now it's following a nationwide trend that for some seems out of tune.
"It's a fond remembrance to the veteran," said Army veteran Bill Hershey, 68. "I play 24 notes and it's a beautiful tune."
For 30 years, he has played taps, most recently for the Missouri Military Funeral Honors Program.
"I think we owe it to our veterans," said Marc Garcia, who is also a bugler.
He, Hershey, and about 23 others make up the list of buglers on-call in Missouri for funerals across the state. They're asked to play almost every day for $24.50 a service at the national cemetery and $50 at other locations.
"I play up here at Jefferson Barracks up until yesterday," Garcia, 55, went on to say.
The Missouri National Guard changed its tune this week when leaders decided to transition to using what's called a ceremonial bugle. It looks like a real one, but plays out a digital recording from inside its bell. That means there's no longer a need for live civilian buglers.
"Every note that we play, we put out heart, soul and feeling into it and that's almost the same thing as the veterans gave the country," said Garcia
"This is not a cost saving measure," explained Maj. Tammy Spicer, a spokeswoman for the Missouri National Guard.
She explained that the song's sound quality and consistency will be better. Also, the ceremonial bugles will be held or played by former or current military members already sent out to services to take care of those other traditions.
"I think it's a shame," Hershey added.
Families wanting a live bugler will now have to get one through the funeral home and pay out of pocket.
After this story aired, one of our Facebook fans pointed us in the direction of an organization called Bugles Across America, which actively seeks volunteers to provide bugling services to veterans and their families.
The organization'swebsite says it has over 7,500 volunteers in all 50 states.
For more information on how to volunteer or request a bugler, visit their website, BuglesAcrossAmerica.org.