Final Salute: History Behind the 'Taps' War Song

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It's estimated that 850 World War II veterans die every day, twice the rate who died during the war itself.

For those who've completed their tour of duty on this earth, the song "Taps" is a final salute.

Jari Villanueva has played the song hundreds of times. He spent most of his 23 years in the military performing it at Arlington National Cemetery.

Now, Villanueva spends much of his time as a "Taps" historian, making folks aware that it was on the banks of the James River in Virginia where the haunting 24-note melody was born.

Berkeley Plantation dates back to the earliest days of the English colonies. In 1862, that's where Union troops were encamped during the Peninsula Campaign.

Gen. Daniel Butterfield didn't care for the bugle call for lights out.

"He summoned his bugler, 22-year-old Oliver Wilcox Norton, and together they revised an old bugle call that had gone out of use prior to the Civil War," Villanueva explained.

"The call that they came up with was 'Taps' and first sounded that July evening here at Harrison's Landing," he continued. "[It] soon spread to the Union army and even used by Confederates by the end of the war."

And over the last 150 years, "Taps" has been used countless times as the final salute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

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