Jari Villanueva Leads Daily Taps at the National WWI Memorial
Published: 28 March 2022
By Kathy Abbott
The Daily Taps program at the National World War I Memorial, in Washington, DC was launched November 11, 2021 by the Doughboy Foundation as part of its ongoing commitment to Honor All Those Who Served in WWI.
To ensure this commitment would be steadfast, Jari Villanueva, lifelong bugler, considered to be the country’s foremost expert on military bugle calls, and Director of Taps for Veterans, was chosen to lead this effort. Jari sounded the first Daily Taps at the WWI Memorial, DC, and continues to play, as well as organize many other dedicated buglers who have stepped forward to honor all our Veterans and active-duty military, rain or shine.
Jari shared some of his thoughts with us this month…
I was born in Karhula, Finland and moved to the US when I was about one. I grew up in Baltimore attending Baltimore Public Schools and attended Peabody Conservatory where I received my bachelor’s degree in Music Education. I taught music in the school system for three years before going to Kent State University where I received my master’s in music.
After I returned to Washington, DC, I joined the US Air Force Band where I spent 23 years as a ceremonial trumpeter and bugler. After I retired, I served as director of the Maryland National Guard Honor Guard overseeing military funeral honors for the State of Maryland. I retired from that position in 2017.
I am now Director of Taps For Veterans and work with over 1,000 volunteers to help provide buglers for military funerals. I also work on special projects with Taps For Veterans like 100 Nights of Taps Gettysburg and Taps Across America in conjunction with CBS News.
I started sounding Taps as a Boy Scout to close each troop meeting and at weekend campouts. I’ve sounded the call all my life and worked at Arlington Cemetery doing countless funerals and ceremonies. Played trumpet in school, and played at many church services and funerals.
I have served in the military for 23 years. My father served in the Merchant Marines during WWII. He was on a Liberty Ship. He was torpedoed twice. My Sister served as a nurse in the Navy, and my niece is following her mother’s footsteps by serving in the Air Force as a nurse at Ramstein AFB.
Playing Taps as a remembrance for Veterans is that one honor we can give to a person who serves in the military. It is an expression of gratitude to those who served, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Taps has a long and proud history. The men and women, who today perform the task of sounding Taps, are following in a great tradition of the thousands of buglers who have served the U.S. military. They stand out in all types of weather, year-round to perform this honored duty.
Written during the Civil War, Taps is a simple tune, but it is not easy to play with the appropriate combination of beauty, emotion and serenity demanded by these occasions. Each bugler develops his or her style within limits defined by military custom and good taste. A not-so-obvious fact, however, is that buglers sometimes must render this solemn expression of mourning under the most difficult circumstances, which might include hot or cold weather, rain, etc. There is no room for error regardless of the demands. More information on Taps can be found at www.TapsBugler.com
It is always moving to see people stop and listen as Taps is sounded at the Memorial. I’ve talked with many visitors, most who are from out of town and are quite taken with the Memorial. Many have a relative who served in WWI. Many are veterans.
The standout events for me were the Veterans (Armistice) Day ceremony on Nov. 11 and sounding Taps for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a special visit to the Memorial. He actually brought his staff to attention, and then signaled me for the execution of the call at 5 PM and called everyone to Present Arms.
It was also moving for me to sound Taps on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. I wanted to let the Soldiers of WWI know they were not forgotten.
Sounding Taps at the WWI Memorial is our way of thanking those who have not only served during that War, but also a way to honor every American who has donned a uniform for their country. I’m proud to do the honor.
Jari currently lives in Catonsville, MD with his wife Heather and two cats. You can read his official bio here: https://www.tapsbugler.com/jari-villanueva-biography-bio
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