Taps Across America: Memorial Day tradition continues as pandemic wanes

Taps Across America: Memorial Day tradition continues as pandemic wanes

WEST BEND, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Wisconsin-based company is playing a big role in a relatively new Memorial Day tradition.

Taps Across America was started in 2020 when CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman encouraged veterans to play taps from wherever they were during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At 3 p.m. local time across the country, many people all started playing taps.

All Fleet Farm locations took part, allowing musicians to perform in their parking lots.

In West Bend, Bill Seaman has played for Taps Across America since the beginning and was proud to carry the tradition on.

"During the beginning of COVID, it was to get everyone involved in something to give purpose during COVID," said Seaman.

Despite not having a military background himself, he plays taps at funerals and events as much as possible.

"I want people to know why we have Memorial Day, and why they have that three-day weekend." said Seaman. "Because of all the people that died in service of this country to have our freedoms."

Fleet Farm West Bend General Manager Kenneth Worthing said having the event there is special to him.

"Because not only am I a veteran of the Air Force for 10 years, but I was instrumental in piloting this program, Taps Across America, for all of Fleet Farm," said Worthing.

Other veterans, like Vietnam- era navy veteran Lloyd Merkel, said they're proud to have a moment to remember their lost friends.

"This is something that's awesome, I wish more Americans would participate, just to see what veteran organizations have done or are trying to do to get our country back to where we're, I'd say, together again," said Merkel.

Seaman said he hopes people seeing him perform taps are inspired to take up the horn themselves, so that all veterans get the respect they deserve.

"I'm not going to be able to play forever, but I'm going to play as long as I can," said Seaman.

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