Memorial Day music: Last Post, Taps, Il Silenzio

Melissa Venema was 13 years old when she performed this trumpet solo in 2008 at Maastricht, the Netherlands, in 2008.  It sounds to my ear like Taps, a bugle call I heard every evening in 1957 at Fort Eustis, Va., when the flag was lowered at sundown.  Taps is a shorter version of Last Post, which is traditionally played at military funerals through the English-speaking world.

I wondered if the performance had any connection with the annual Memorial Day ceremony held by Dutch people at the American Military Cemetery in the Netherlands at Margarten, just six miles east of Maastricht.  This cemetery holds Americans who died fighting in World War Two to drive the German armies from the Netherlands.  It originally contained about 18,000 graves, but some American remains were shipped home, and the cemetery now has 8,301 plots.

Each dead American has been adopted by a Dutch family, who try to obtain photos and learn all they can about this particular person’s life, and who pay their respects at the graveside every year.   I was touched to learn this.   However, as it happens, Melissa Venema’s trumpet solo has nothing to do this this.  She was playing Il Silenzio, which is, I am told by Wikipedia, an Italian pop music selection composed by trumpeter Nini Rosso, based in an Italian cavalry bugle call.

No matter.  She played beautifully, and we can think our own thoughts as we listen.   We can remember the brave American soldiers, and also the brave Dutch Resistance fighters, who gave their lives to keep their countries free.


American Memorial Day honored by Dutch at Margarten on the U.S. Army home page.

A U.S. sacrifice, deeply honored to this day by Jim Thielman in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Reflections on Visiting the United States Military Cemetery in the Netherlands by Harry G. Sharp in the Sikeston (Mo.) Standard-Democat.

The fact that I think the current U.S. military interventions are wrong does not take away from the respect I feel for men and women who are willing to put themselves at risk for the sake of their country.   I am not a pacifist, but I would feel the same way if I were.   American men and women in uniform do not send themselves to war.   They are sent by authority of the President and Congress, who are ultimately responsible to we the people.  If we think the patriotism of the troops is being abused, it is our responsibility, not theirs, do do something about it.

Hat tip for the video to Bill Elwell.

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4 Responses to “Memorial Day music: Last Post, Taps, Il Silenzio”

  1. GAZ Says:

    Effortless, lungs of a giant. 😉


  2. Gordon R. Allan Says:

    Check your history books to find out who really liberated the Netherlands! As a typical credit w horing,missinformed american,you’ll probably have a problem admitting, it was the canadian military that did,in fact, liberate the Netherlands!


    • philebersole Says:

      Canadian troops did most of the fighting that liberated the Netherlands from the Nazi Germans, according to Wikipedia. Polish, American and French troops also took part.

      Here’s the Wikipedia article.

      We Americans should remember and honor the valor of the Canadian troops in World War Two, who were in the war for more than two years before Pearl Harbor. I apologize for slighting the Canadians, which we Americans have a bad habit of doing.

      That said, I feel touched by the fact that Dutch people gratefully remember Americans who died fighting to liberate the Netherlands—as presumably they also remember liberators from Canada, Poland, France and other Allied nations.

      And Last Post (aka Taps or Il Silenzio) is a beautiful and appropriate tune for American Memorial Day, Canadian Remembrance Day and their counterparts in other Allied nations.


  3. Brian McCullough Says:

    To Mr. Gordon Allen:
    As the nephew of one of the 8,301 men buried at Margraten, I can assure you that at 21, he was not “credit-whoring” when his B-17 fell to earth. His grieving family was not “credit-whoring” when they made their pilgrimages to his grave site decades later.
    I am pleased to know that Canada was as involved as it was in the liberation of the Netherlands. It would be nice if you, Mr. Allen, had any sense of irony concerning the abusive and hurtful statement you made in your own attempt at “credit-whoring”.


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