"It's very heartwarming." said Alfred Monk's son, Tom. "It's also sad. Tradition. All those things rolled into one."
Across the country, nearly 2000 veterans die every day. Now, some fear the time-honored tradition of live Taps, will die with them. Ten years ago, the Pentagon began using recorded Taps to keep up with the pace of dying veterans, and the mounting casualties of the wars overseas. Today, 4 out of 5 military funerals use boomboxes and digital bugles. a fact some find unacceptable.
"That cannot be, that my father could have 100 guys who could play Taps for him, but somewhere around the country, somebody who may have fought right alongside my father, was being put to rest with a tape recorder," says Rochester trumpeter Tom Allen.
Allen is the son of a World War II veteran. He's one of 300 civilian musicians who travel around the state to play live Taps.
"If only 20 percent of families are going to get a live bugler at their funeral for their hero, what's it going to be like in 50 years, when all these kids who signed up after 9-11 are in their 70's and 80's? If this tradition just disappears on our watch, this generation of brass musicians, that's just not good enough."
In New York State, people like Tom have helped fend off federal cuts that eliminate live Taps altogether. But even sympathetic lawmakers admit it's an uphill battle.
"I got calls from veterans groups all around New York State, from one end to the other, saying 'please get this money restored, it's not expensive', and we have," says Senator Chuck Schumer.
Nearly 1300 veterans died in Monroe County last year. Funeral directors say most of their military services used a recorded version of Taps. Mr. Monk's internment was an exception. Tom Monk says his father would have been proud. "I think he would have been very surprised that so many people went out of their way to send him off."
Alfred Monk's final bugle call was the real, but rare, deal.
For more information on how to save live Taps, click here and here.