July 4, 2013
A few years ago, a friend visited the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in the village of Margraten, about six miles from Maastricht. There lie buried 8,301 American soldiers killed in the battles to liberate Holland in the fall and winter of 1944-5. Sgt. Bill Dukeman, 101st Airborne Division, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Second Battalion, Company C (of “Band of Brothers fame) is buried there. He was killed in the battle of “The Crossroads” in northern Holland.
The Dutch hold an annual memorial concert every September at the above cemetery to remember and honor the Americans who died to free them in Operation Market Garden and subsequent efforts to eject the German army from Holland. Sgt. Dukeman, like many other fallen GIs, was “adopted” by a Dutch family. Dukeman’s family in the States was contacted and hosted in Holland, and his grave site decorated each year by his Dutch “family.” They keep his portrait in their home, displayed in a place of honor. Fathers pass this obligation down to their sons in Holland. This version of the original “taps” music is played by a 13 year old Dutch girl named Melissa Venema. The conductor of the orchestra is Andre Rieu from Holland.
Many of you may never have heard taps played in its entirety . The original version of Taps was called Last Post, and was written by Daniel Butterfield in 1801. It was rather lengthy and formal, as you will hear in this clip, so in 1862 it was shortened to 24 notes and re-named Taps. Melissa Venema is playing it on a trumpet whereby the original was played on a bugle.
Have a happy Independence Day!