When you hear Taps played during Memorial Day ceremonies at Willow River Cemetery in Hudson and several others in the area, the bugler will be carrying on a local family tradition.
Art Feyereisen, a veteran of the Korean War and member of the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars who serves on the color guard, has enlisted his son and grandsons into playing Taps for the ceremony over the past 25 years.
"It's a dramatic thing, to hear Taps," said Feyereisen during a recent conversation in his comfortable town of Troy home built on the land he once farmed not far away from where he was born on the bank of the St. Croix River.
The tradition started in 1987 with his son Scott, now 41, when he was a freshman at Hudson High School, said Feyereisen.
The gauntlet was passed on to grandson Ben Krause, now 30, then to grandson Nick Rinta, 23, and now the position is held down by grandson Jameson Krause, 16, who will be on deck for the ceremonies Monday.
Recruiting his son and grandsons for the job simplified the process, said Feyereisen. "You have to find somebody from the band who can play a trumpet and then if they don't drive, you have to arrange transportation," he said.
These logistical problems are easily taken care of when the process involves members of the family.
"It's fun to be with these guys," said Feyereisen, "They don't let me down."
"All I say to them is, 'It's just got to be perfect.'"
Feyereisen has been a member of the VFW for 50 years, he said. For most of that time he has taken on the job of placing American flags on the graves of veterans in area cemeteries for Memorial Day, including the German Cemetery east of town.
"There are two Civil War and two World War II graves in the German Cemetery," he said.
He also has a long list of relatives who were veterans of various wars including World War I and World War II.
Feyereisen, a 1950 graduate of River Falls High School, was drafted into the Army in 1952 during the Korean War.
"I spent 13 months on the front lines in the IX Corps," he said.
Feyereisen served in an artillery unit that confronted the Chinese Communist forces after they entered the fray and nearly pushed U.S. Forces off the peninsula. He earned sergeant's stripes before being discharged.
"More than 8,000 GIs never came home from Korea...War is hell," he said.
Being at the end of the supply line in Korea had some disadvantages. They got what C rations were left. "They were made in New Richmond, it was stamped right on the cans," he said.
Feyereisen and his wife, Marilyn, have four children, two boys and two girls, and 17 grandchildren that should make for a solid fan club to keep the bugling tradition alive in the family.
Short History of Taps
The tradition of playing Taps at the end of the day and at military funerals dates back 150 years to the Civil War.
Historians agree Taps began as a revision of an earlier bugle call re-arranged by General Daniel Butterfield for lights out at the end of the day.
Gen. Butterfield used Taps to honor his men of the Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, in July 1862 after the Seven Day's Battle in Virginia.
Capt. John C. Tidball started the custom of playing Taps at a military funeral in early July 1862 when a corporal in his command was killed.
For more information, search Taps history on the web.