During the Vietnam War, Gary Marquardt was a young man waiting to be called up for military service, but due to a bleeding ulcer, he was deemed unfit to serve. He always felt guilty over not being able to fight for his country, but later in life he found a way to ease that guilt.
In 2014, Marquardt was attending the funeral of a military friend and was shocked when he heard a recording of a bugle playing “Taps” instead of live music. The fact that a fallen soldier have someone playing live really bothered him, so the man from Minnesota went to a music store and started learning to play the trumpet.
Now he’s 68 and after a lot of practice, he’s learned to play pretty well and uses his newfound skill to play at gravestones for recently deceased vets and soldiers. He also volunteers for Bugles Across America, a nonprofit that organizes trumpeters playing at military funerals. “I don’t play perfect every time - I really try to,” he says, “but I’m there representing all of us and it comes from the heart.”