15 year old participates in second Taps Across America

Keeley Meier, staff writer

Submitted photo 

This year, Jepperson performed in Luverne with his brother, Slaten, holding a flag in the background.

At 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, Holden Jepperson played taps on his trumpet in Luverne, Minn., on his grandparents’ porch. 

Jepperson, 15, participated in the second Taps Across America where he was joined by thousands of musicians across the country also playing taps, the most solemn bugle call. 

The event began last year as a way to commemorate Memorial Day during the pandemic and grew in momentum after Steve Hartman with CBS’s On the Road brought attention to the patriotic act. 

Jepperson, 14 at the time and decked out in a patriotic red, white and blue suit, participated in the inaugural Taps Across America from his front porch in Brandon. After putting the word out, a handful of their neighbors came outside to listen.

“I think [my mom] saw it on Facebook and thought, ‘Holden plays trumpet. I think it’d be pretty cool if he did that,’” Holden said.

Holden’s mom, Gretchen, recognized the importance of the event right away.

“It was during the pandemic, and there were so many ways, I think, that we wanted to still feel like we were a part of things,” Gretchen said.

Despite beginning to enter a new normal and getting back to pre-pandemic activities, Holden isn’t letting his taps performance become just a one-time occurrence. 

“I’m going to continue doing it because it just feels special to be able do something that is important since it means so much to people—people in the military, people that have died in the military,” Holden said. “It just feels like I’m doing my part.”

The idea of Taps Across America comes from the National Moment of Remembrance which asks all citizens, wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time, to pause for one minute in a silent tribute to those who have served the nation and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. 

This was first proclaimed in May 2000 and was put into law by Congress in December of 2000. 

Taps Across America is sponsored by Taps for Veterans—an organization dedicated to finding live buglers for funerals and memorial services. It was founded by Jari Villanueva, retired U.S. Air Force Band, in 2012. 

Holden, who just finished his freshman year at Brandon Valley High School and is in the band, says it wasn’t difficult for him to learn taps but that he believes this year was easier than last.

“I think the first time I did it I was a little bit nervous because I wasn’t really confident playing it yet at that point, but this year I’m better at trumpet and had another year to practice it, so I’m feeling a little bit better about it now,” Holden said. “I just couldn’t quite play some of those notes at the end there.”

This year, Holden was at his grandparents’ house in Luverne for the holiday, so he played the patriotic music there. His grandparents, Gretchen says, live right on Highway 75.

“I don’t know if we’ll make you go all the way out on the highway,” Gretchen laughed.

Reflecting back, Gretchen says that Holden has always had a connection to Memorial Day.

“Memorial Day for him has always been special because his birthday is always in the same weekend,” Gretchen said. “He was born on Memorial Day weekend. There’s always been, I think, a little bit of a connection anyway so then to be able to kind of come full circle and be able to participate in this is pretty special.”

Last year, KELOLAND Living picked up on Holden’s participation and made a mention of him in a segment.

“Actually, I think it’s kind of funny because I remember as it was going on on TV, one of the weather warnings came on, so we didn’t actually get to see it,” Holden said.

Even though they were able to re-air the segment the following day, it’s not the recognition that drives Holden to participate.

“I think it maybe is something that has grown even more, maybe a positive thing that came out of the pandemic,” Gretchen said. “I think there were a lot of people probably in a similar situation who were like, ‘What can we do to honor these occasions when we can’t really be with people?’ So, it’s going to be, I’m sure, something you’re probably going to do for the rest of your life, don’t you think?”

Holden nodded in agreement.

And, he certainly won’t be the only one.

Anyone who can sound taps on an instrument is welcome to participate, and the organization encourages each participant to record themselves and share their videos with Taps Across America.

Gretchen says this small act is an important way of remembering the day’s importance.

“We’re having a pool party that day, but we’re going to be pausing at that time to go out there and kind of stop the celebration to really recognize the day and what it means and why we are there,” she said. “A lot of times, people—with Memorial Day—just think of it as a long weekend and not necessarily getting the whole reason why we have the long weekend, so this seemed like a very perfect opportunity to bring that to light, too.”


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