LSO-American Legion photo 2 LSO-American Legion photo 1

 

Photos: On left, LSO principal trumpet Michael Thompson plays taps at a funeral with American Legion’s memorial squad (photo courtesy of LSO). On right, American Legion’s memorial squad (photo courtesy of American Legion Post 3).

Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra trumpeters are now playing Taps at the funerals of military veterans as part of a new partnership with the American Legion Post 3 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The American Legion is a nonprofit group of veterans, formed in 1919 to look after all American veterans’ welfare, especially those experiencing their post-active duty life. The American Legion was a prime mover behind the now-familiar Department of Veterans Affairs, which opened for business in 1929. On a local level, veterans band together in “posts,” where the mission of the Legion takes place daily. Legionnaires are intrinsically motivated by Four Pillars: Children and Youth Programs, Americanism, National Security, and Veterans Rehabilitation.

The American Legion Post 3’s memorial squad, “Blue Team Six,” provides services at military funerals, color guard, parades, school visits, and other miscellaneous activities. Fred Chrastil, Post 3 Honor Guard Commander, notes that the honor guard is made up of all volunteers, and they do not request any payment for their services. “Our mission has and continues to be to show dignity, honor and respect to the family of the deceased,” Chrastil said. “We take pride in the idea that we are the only segment of military funerals that is not a cost to the family.”

Last year, a lifetime member of the American Legion noticed that recorded trumpet music was being used at many military funerals. As a longtime supporter of Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, this donor arranged for the two organizations to work together, and he has made an anonymous donation to underwrite the cost of LSO musicians playing Taps whenever possible.

Since beginning the partnership in January 2015, LSO trumpeters have played Taps at nineteen funerals. LSO Principal Trumpeter Michael Thompson is one of the trumpeters who has played at these funerals, and is honored to have the opportunity to perform this special service for military veterans. “The American Legion Post 3’s memorial squad performs an excellent ceremony,” says Thompson. “Playing taps after the third volley of the 21 gun salute is a very emotional experience for me.”

For more information about Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, visit www.lincolnsymphony.org. For more information about the American Legion Post 3, click here.