Nightly Taps: This Oklahoma bugler remembers the fallen who didn’t get military honors they deserved

Great State

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — It’s a beautiful evening at Stars and Stripes Park.

The sun is about to set.

People are still walking around.

The fragrant smoke from finished grilling says summer is upon us.

Among those gathered to enjoy this place is Kendall Wahpepah who, over the past couple of weeks, has been bringing his trumpet to this spot.

His warm-up doesn’t reveal much about what he’s planning to perform.

Kendall’s concert is just one song, a short one, 24 notes that take less than a minute, but their impact is like no other.

“I played Taps here once before for somebody,” he says. “I just like the way the sound comes off the water, the acoustics of it.”

His father and four uncles served in the U.S. military.

His Kickapoo and Absentee Shawnee family carried a proud soldier tradition for generations.

Kendall remembers playing Taps at their funerals.

Then another bugler, a member of the Oklahoma Chapter of Bugles Across America reminded him of the veterans who’ve passed in the last couple of months, denied full honors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

That thought is what brought him here.

“These guys need to be recognized,” he argues. “It’s important. Some of them gave a lot or gave all. So it’s the least I can do.”

So as the sun dips to the horizon Kendall’s bugle issues that call to end the day, first played on a Civil War battlefield, adopted by both North and South, and then the country as a whole.

After so many times playing it, Wahpepah says the tune still gives him chills.

Remembering the fallen in battle, and those fallen to history; full military honors is what Kendall insists they all deserve.

For more information on local chapters of Bugles Across America go to their website.

Kendall plans to keep playing taps every night at the Eisenhower Memorial in the park.

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