For Barry Kamrath, there’s a double layer of meaning each year when he plays trumpet as part of the “Taps” project at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Held as part of Veterans Day, the “Taps” project gives Kamrath, associate professor in the School of Education, a chance to honor his late father, a veteran of the Korean War, and to celebrate his father’s birthday, also on Nov . 11.
“Every time I play on Veterans Day, it’s in remembrance of my favorite veteran,” Kamrath said.
On Nov. 11, 2022, he joined 30 other trumpet players who stood about 30 yards apart and looped around the UTC campus from the intersection of Douglas and Vine streets to the Fine Arts Center and back to the Power C on Chamberlain Field.
As one player reached the final notes of the plaintive “Taps,” the next player in line began, creating a nonstop performance of the song from 9:45-10 a.m.
UTC faculty and students, teachers and students from local and regional high schools, veterans and community musicians were part of the event, which has been held each Veterans Day since 2016 except for a COVID-driven break in 2020.
“It’s fantastic. They’re really dedicated, and people who have done it for some time are very loyal and want to keep doing it. I think there’s a camaraderie and a bonding that happens for us,” said Erika Schafer, professor in the Department of Music, coordinator of the “Taps” project and a trumpet player herself.
Kirk Bailey took the 30-minute ride from Jasper, Tennessee, in Marion County to play “Taps,” but it was a tough decision.
“I originally wasn’t going to do this because this Nov. 11 is the two-year anniversary that my grandfather died. The last year or so of his life we were living right next to him because we had to take care of him,” said Bailey, a freshman at Marion County High School.
Serving in the Vietnam War with the U.S. Army, his grandfather was wounded when a bomb exploded near him, Bailey said.
“It completely screwed up his hearing and screwed up a bunch of other stuff with him.”
In the end, Bailey decided to be part of the “Taps” project as a tribute to his grandfather, an especially poignant choice since the two share a name. Kirk Bailey’s grandfather was Archie Kirk.