The Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial is 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.
The song TAPS, played on a military bugle, is a haunting song that most of us remember from the military funerals we have attended or military ceremonies on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. But most of us, veterans included, have never heard the complete version of that song, and IT IS BEAUTIFUL. And no more fittingly played than in the Netherlands where their people suffered horribly during World War II, and where over 8,000 American veterans died and are buried in the American Veterans Cemetery there. Each year, the Dutch people hold ceremonies in memory of these brave men who freed them from Nazi oppression, and in thanks to those who fought for their freedom and liberty. This past year, at those ceremonies and at a concert held in those memories, the complete version of TAPS was played by a 13 year old Dutch girl on her trumpet. It is a haunting melody, beautifully played, where you could hear a pin drop during her playing, and a standing ovation when she finished. It is beautiful and by listening, you will be rendering a salute not just to those veterans who died in the Netherland, but military men of the USA from all time and no matter where or when they served. Do this in remembrance of them. The URL for the TAPS rendition is below: