I was honored to give the benediction at Kenilworth’s Memorial Day parade last weekend, and as the holiday approaches I wanted to take this opportunity to share my words with you. Those at the parade heard “Taps” played. Those 24 soulful notes linger long in our hearts when we gather to honor those who gave their lives for our country. I live so close to Great Lakes Naval Base that I hear “Taps” played each night, especially after Memorial Day when our windows are often open. It is a daily reminder to remember those who answer the call to service. As the evening light softens, a daily prayer for peace wells with the lingering notes.
Written during the Civil War, “Taps” is 160 years old this year. Originally it was the signal to turn off the lights. But it soon took its place in Civil War funeral services in place of firing three shots as commanders wanted to avoid mistakenly signaling to the enemy that they were going to start fighting again. Since the beginning, “Taps” has been a way to honor the fallen while seeking peace.
While there are no official words to “Taps”, there are many unofficial lyrics. The most commonly known are familiar to many Scouts, and they will serve as our benediction. May they linger with us beyond Memorial Day, and be an ongoing act of gratitude and remembrance for those we honor today.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake, from the skies.
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Go to sleep, peaceful sleep, may the soldier
or sailor, God keep. On the land or the deep, Safe in sleep.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, Neath the stars, ‘Neath the sky,
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.