A veteran’s funeral without taps just isn’t complete, which is why one Springville resident has donated her trumpet-playing talent and untold hours of service to play for free at veteran funerals throughout her hometown.
Marci Harris, of Springville, got her start playing the trumpet in sixth grade, after her sister told her the trumpet got all of the solos.
However, soon after starting, Harris said not only did she enjoy playing the trumpet, but she was also “pretty good.”
Her trumpeting career did not end there. Post-high school Harris went on to play her trumpet on a scholarship at Utah Valley University (known as UVCC at the time) in both band and orchestra before playing with the Mormon Youth Symphony (now Orchestra at Temple Square).
Harris currently plays with the Utah Premiere Brass and the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra.
According to Harris, approximately eight years ago she was approached by Keith Davis, a life-long family friend who was also a member of the American Legion, asking if she would play taps on her trumpet at a funeral.
Harris agreed, and soon found herself playing at more and more funerals.
“When a veteran dies, a mortuary will ask [the family] if they want military rights. If they say yes, they call us … and then Keith calls me,” Harris explained.
Because Harris’ kids are in school and funerals are generally held during the day, she’s able to attend the majority of funerals she’s asked to play for.
As for the workload, that varies widely. Harris said, “Sometimes we’ll have two or three [funerals] in a week, and other times we’ll go a month without one.”
She added, however, that she participates in approximately 40 to 50 funerals a year, if not more.
According to Keith Davis, a 70-year American Legion member and former American Legion commander, Harris is “a real asset” to the American Legion and the honor guard funeral they provide, which also includes a 21-gun salute and a presentation of the flag to the next of kin.
In addition to doing a good job playing taps, Harris gets along with all of the veterans, despite the fact she’s a lot younger than most American Legion members, said Davis.
“She mingles with the veterans and jokes with them. They all like her,” he added.
In fact, Harris said she’s now played at a lot of funerals for veterans that she once stood beside in earlier funerals.
Since funerals proceed rain or shine, Harris has played in the rain, snow, cold and heat, and according to her, it’s hardest to play in the cold.
Harris remembered one particular funeral in the middle of December when it was “at least negative 5 degrees” outside.
“My horn valves were frozen when I was done,” she said.
“I had to keep breathing into it while I was waiting so my lips wouldn’t stick to it,” she said with a laugh. “I kept it in my jacket and was breathing in it to keep it warm enough to play.”
Harris mentioned at a different funeral it was snowing so hard that after standing at attention “there was an inch of snow on my horn and on all of us.”
Throughout her taps-playing career, Harris has played at funerals for numerous veterans — from complete strangers to dignitaries and even the funeral of her own father, which she said proved to be an emotional and difficult experience.
“I don’t know who played my horn that day because it wasn’t me, even though it was me.”
However, for Harris, playing taps at the veterans’ funerals is something she ultimately enjoys doing.
“I love doing it because these guys did such a great thing for our country. I feel honored to be able to help them out with what they’re doing,” she said.
Daily Herald reporter Danielle Downs can be reached at (801) 344-2549 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.