YARDLEY BOROUGH >> Yardley Borough resident Tony Primola did something on Monday that he hasn’t done since the Vietnam War.
On Memorial Day, the 80 year old stepped out of his house, walked a few feet to the American flag waving proudly over Buttonwood Park and played TAPS on his trumpet.
With the sun glistening off his trumpet and before a group of about 30 socially distanced neighbors and friends he played Taps in honor of the nation’s fallen heroes. And he followed that up with God Bless America and America the Beautiful.
It was a stunning, emotionally-raw and beautiful act for an individual who had played those same bars as the bodies of American soldiers came home to rest from Vietnam between 1964 and 1966.
As a member of the 81st U.S. Army Band, Primola was one of four buglers who traveled to cemeteries across the nation to play TAPS for the soldiers returning home in body bags.
It was an especially difficult duty for Primola who rendered the honor gladly and without hesitation.
Even today it’s hard for him to talk about some of his experiences, including the one young soldier who came home to no family or friends to say goodbye.
“This means a lot to me,” he told the small gathering. “It’s an honor for me to do this today.”
His performance was inspired by CBS’s “Taps Across America,” which encouraged buglers and trumpeters across the nation to play Taps at 3 pm.
“Taps Across America” is the brainchild of CBS News "On the Road" correspondent Steve Hartman who teamed up with retired Air Force bugler Jari Villanueva to keep the spirit of the holiday alive during the pandemic.
Hartman and Villanueva said they hope that the nationwide event offered an opportunity to pause for a moment to pay tribute to fallen service members and victims of the coronavirus pandemic while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Hartman was inspired by a story he did in 2012 on Don Brittain, who sounded Taps on his balcony at sunset. Hartman thought other trumpet players could do the same.
Independently, Villanueva had virtually the same idea for a Memorial Day tribute. Villanueva retired from the United States Air Force at the rank of Master Sergeant, after 23 years playing with the United States Air Force Band at Arlington National Cemetery.
Primola’s son took video of his dad’s performance, which he has sent to Hartman who requested that participants shoot video and send it to him for possible inclusion in a montage to be broadcast on a future show.
“I’m glad they’re doing this all over the country,” said Primola. “I hope my playing inspires within people the wonderful country we have and how people came together in a crisis like this. It’s also a time to really appreciate the military and the sacrifice that they are making, right now, wherever they are.”