Proud of East Texas: Dr. Frank Muckleroy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Proud of East Texas: Dr. Frank Muckleroy

(KLTV) -

 As soon as we hear the solemn notes of Taps, we know that a veteran who has served our country, is being honored, and buried. Dr. Frank Muckleroy played Taps at his first military funeral when he was only 13.

But the custom of Taps at military funerals dates back over a century and a half.

"Taps was originally written about 1862, during the Civil War," Muckleroy tells me.

It seems that the traditional firing of rifle rounds at burials often resulted in skirmishes since the opposite side didn't know if the shots were being fired at them or not.

"So an American general talked to his bugler and together they developed the bugle call to be played at funerals sometimes instead of the rounds being fired and sometimes immediately following," he said.

Muckleroy's mother kept track of his Taps until her death, and he's continued to count. But he says it was his first funeral at age 13 that prepared him for unexpected situations in the thousands of burials that were to come.

He had just begun playing Taps when the deceased's wife became overcome with grief.

"She screamed and jumped on the casket. She and the casket went down into the ground..." he recalls.
Muckleroy says he just kept playing, since that's the only thing he knew to do.

Dr. Kenneth Muckleroy has had a distinguished career in music, playing in a military orchestra during his service in the '50s, and in music education at Texas high schools and colleges. He retired in 2000 as chairman of the music department at the University of Texas at Tyler. Since that time he's devoted much of his time to "Bugles Across America," as Texas director.

"We try to make sure that if someone wants a live bugler, that we are available," he says.

Muckleroy doesn't change for his services. He says it's just a way of serving.

"This is our country, and this is part of serving, not just that individual, but serving our country."

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