Robert D’Angelo of Avon has played taps on Memorial Day since he was a high school student in the 1980s.
This year was no different, even as Memorial Day celebrations across the region were a little different.
D’Angelo joined other musicians from across the country in playing taps at 3 p.m. local time on Monday as part of “Taps Across America,” an effort by CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman and retired Air Force bugler Jari Villaneuva to pay tribute to the fallen and victims of the coronavirus pandemic while observing social distancing.
“Since I was a kid my father always took me to watch the parade and services on Memorial Day,” D’Angelo said. “He taught me the meaning of the day, and I developed an understanding and love for those who fought and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”
D’Angelo stepped outside his home at the appointed time and on a sun-drenched afternoon played the somber, 24-note bugle call so often associated with veterans’ funerals and ceremonies.
He joined veterans, music teachers and students of all ages and ability who played from lawns, porches, driveways, local and national parks, or the steps of a local library.
Among the performers was a Rochester family with Livingston County ties who paid tribute to their father and grandfather, Marine veteran Dick Bondi, who lives in Dansville and is originally from Geneseo. Dick Bondi’s sons, Rich and Jim, along with Jim’s daughters Elizabeth and Anna played outside Jim Bondi’s home in Rochester. Dick Bondi, 95, saluted in the background as the musicians played.
Hartman said the idea was inspired by a 2012 story he did on Don Brittain, who sounded taps on his balcony at sunset. Independently, Villaneuva had a similar idea.
“It’s not only a military call, but a call that reassures us,” Villaneuva said on the CBS Evening News.
D’Angelo said he heard about the project from a musician friend.
D’Angelo performed on his 1960s-era Holton cornet, the instrument he uses when he marches.
“This was the first horn I played when I was in fourth grade. I had it restored 18 years ago,” said D’Angelo, who also has a trumpet and flugelhorn.
D’Angelo started playing music in fourth grade in the 1970s at Avon Central School. He continued to play in college at SUNY Alfred.
He is director of the Christmas Band at Avon Central Presbyterian Church and a member of the East Rochester Fire Department Band. Previously, he has played with the Fairport Fire Department, Rush Fire Department Band and Avon Symphony Orchestra.