Bugler, 92, Still Answers Call For Taps

Al Madden

Army veteran Al Madden, 92, plays taps at the Barnstable Senior Center in Hyannis, Mass., in May for Memorial Day. Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times

This fall, World War II veteran Albert Madden, 92, from Hyannis, Mass., became one of the oldest buglers to play taps at Arlington National Cemetery.

On Saturday, he'll play the song at the Massachusetts National Cemetery on Cape Cod. It marks the 84th time he'll play taps for a ceremony in honor of Veterans Day.

But no matter how many times he plays it, Madden he says he never gets used it.

"Taps is a very, very emotional call," he says. "When you play it at a funeral, you see the people break down and cry. You gotta [do] all you [can] do to hold back your own. After all, you're big, you're strong, you're in the Army. You're a powerful person. And you're saying goodbye to a hero."

Madden says his father was a World War I veteran and a heavy smoker — and in the early 1980s, he was dying of lung cancer.

"I would go see him everyday while he was in the VA hospital and my father said to me, 'Buddy, if I go, will you play taps for me?' I said, 'Yes.'"

"My father passed away on the sixth of August, 1982. And we're in the mausoleum, a big mausoleum and the whole family is saying, 'His casket's here.' And I'm in uniform. Firing squad: ding, ding, ding. They fired the 21-gun salute. I play taps. The most difficult taps I've ever played in my life."

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