“It just seemed that after what they've given, that wasn't much to ask,” he says.
Almost every day 68-year-old Gary Marquardt plays “Taps” at the graves of veterans. About a hundred times a year he puts on the uniform of Bugles Across America and volunteers to play at military funerals.
Neither a veteran nor a musician (until recently), Marquardt plays simply to pay homage to those who served.
It all started three years ago after the Minnesota retiree attended a military funeral where a recording of Taps was used instead of a live bugler.
From that moment, Marquardt was inspired to learn the bugle in order to honor those who had sacrificed so much.
“It just seemed that after what they’ve given, that wasn’t much to ask,” Marquardt told KARE-11 News.
Never having played before, he went to a music store and purchased a bugle. After taking lessons – and trying the patience of his wife and neighbors — Marquardt kept practicing until he could play proficiently.
“I don’t play perfect every time — I really try to,” he said, “but I’m there representing all of us and it comes from the heart.”
While in his 20s, Marquardt collapsed at work due to a bleeding ulcer and was declared unfit to serve in the Vietnam War. Having gotten out of his obligation, while high schools friends went to Vietnam and were killed, has haunted him ever since.
Playing Taps has been his way of paying those who served back.
“I love to hear Taps echo through the cemetery,” he said. “I’m doing something for these guys. It’s kind of like being among friends.”