• A visit to Union 2013. If you grew up in Union, West Virginia and you have not been able to return to Monroe County recently, chances are you will enjoy a little tour of Union and the area.

    View a Picture Tour of Union & Monroe County.


“Graveside Honors” by Ann Porterfield Dillon

I returned from West Virginia a few days ago where my husband Bob and I attended the funeral services for Darryl Weiss , husband of Linda Carol Anderson Weiss, a graduate of Union High School in the class of 1963. I want to share some thoughts with you, as it may help spread the word about something I consider very wonderful and touching.

As you probably know, anyone who has served on active duty in the military and been honorably discharged is entitled to two things upon death–a US flag for the casket, and military honors (taps) at the gravesite. The flag seems to be commonly known, but the playing of taps less so, and apparently isn’t requested often by family members. I think most funeral homes do have a tape recording of taps that can be played if family requests.

However, about a year ago NBC news did a feature on an organization called “Taps Across America”. The founder explained that he had become deeply saddened that the best that was being done with so many veterans at burial was a tape recording of taps, and it was his goal to enlist volunteers all across the country and have enough people available to play taps at the gravesite for any deceased veteran if the family wished. He want on to say that taps is a fairly simple tune, that many people have the skill to play it, the time required to perform this service would only require an hour or so per occasion, and that a number of people would probably be glad to volunteer.

When Linda and I were talking on the phone about Darryl’s funeral arrangements I asked her if someone was going to play taps. She hadn’t even thought about it, and I explained about the organization and she said she’d call the funeral home. Meanwhile, I got on the computer and located the Taps Across America website and even located two volunteers in the area–one in Lewisburg and one in Alderson. (They have listings for all the states, and when you click on the state it brings up names of volunteers and their town/city.) Although there were no phone numbers, I had two possible names and placed another call to Linda. She said the funeral home had told her they weren’t aware of the organization but could play the tape recording if she wanted. Long story short, she called the funeral home back with the names I’d found and he located one of the volunteers.

Perhaps I’m a bit prejudiced after spending so much of my career working for the Department of Defense, but I have great admiration for the military and the various ceremonies they have for different occasions. But I can certainly tell you that I wasn’t the only person at the graveside services who was very moved by the bugler playing taps. Several years ago I assisted my father in making funeral arrangements for his brother (who had been awarded a purple heart in WW II). A recording of taps was played for those graveside services, and it can’t even begin to compare with the experience at the end of Darryl Wiess’ service… hearing a live bugle in the distance sounding the final farewell of taps.

Bob was one of the pallbearers and we arrived at the cemetery early. I took the opportunity to speak with the bugler and thanked him for what I consider this wonderful service they’re providing. I explained about seeing the feature on TV, and that I was surprised that more funeral homes weren’t aware of the organization. He said they’re only a couple of years old, that they’re trying to get the word out, and that they’re gaining volunteers. He lives in Lewisburg, the cemetery is in Ronceverte, he was there about a half hour, so probably including travel time he devoted about two hours for the entire event. And for something memorable for the family and friends for years to come. I could tell he was as passionate about honoring veterans their entitled honors, as was the organization’s founder when I saw him on TV.

I think it’s a great organization, performing a valuable and meaningful service, and I hope the word spreads quickly to funeral homes. Maybe we have a former bugler from Union High School, who would like to volunteer?

Ann Porterfield Dillon
Class of 1961