(FOX 9) – “Taps” has been offered as a final salute to military veterans since the Civil War. But the number of bugles available to play is limited.
Today, a WWII veteran from New Brighton helps keep the historic tradition alive.
There are few ceremonies darker than saying goodbye to a loved one for good. But Harry Reiner hopes to make things a little easier with every honk.
On that day, Reiner provided the Military Honors soundtrack for Air Force veteran Dorvin Baker.
The sounds that fill the air of an Andover funeral home don’t just pay homage to Baker’s service to his country.
They also comfort the family and friends he left behind.
“The reason I play in the honor guard is because it gives me great satisfaction to be able to do it for the family. It’s the last big event they’re going to have,” said Reiner.
Over the past 18 years, Reiner has played his trusty trumpet at more than 2,000 military funerals.
Most of them are near the grave, and he plays in rain or shine as Anoka’s honor guard presents the flag to the veteran’s family while the member is buried.
âI have complete freedom to do whatever I want and nobody blames me if I hit a bad mark because they don’t know the difference,â Reiner said.
At 93, Reiner is well 20 years older than his fellow Honor Guard members, most of whom are in their 60s to 70s.
As a lone WWII sailor in a sea of ââVietnamese veterans, Reiner says performing at military funerals is his way of always serving his community.
âIt’s kind of like having our dad with us because our fathers are WWII veterans. My dad has passed away along with a lot of others. But Harry is kind of a living reminder of that generation. They are calling. often the largest generation, âsaid Mike Clark of the Anoka Honor Guard.
âThey are my extended family. They are so respectful to me and there is a big age difference. They carry my horn. They carry my chair,â Reiner said.
Reiner fell in love with his favorite instrument in elementary school while growing up in New Ulm, but his horn fell silent for a few years after enlisting in the Navy after high school.
He picked it up on his return home and over the following decades he made a name for himself as a talented trumpeter with a number of bands playing everything from dance to Latin to jazz music. in the Twin Cities and in his winter house. in Florida.
âI had a good group. Unfortunately I’m the only one left. They all died. It was a good group. It was tight,â said Reiner.
Even at his age, Reiner trains an hour or two a day to keep his chops on when he’s not visiting his wife Henrietta in memory care.
He wants to keep playing for at least 7 years until he turns 100.
âIt’s a little unusual to have a good trumpeter who is old and can play because it’s all going to hell,â Reiner said.
Due to a shortage of bugles, honor guards across the country play pre-recorded tap dancing from a computer chip inside a trumpet.
But Reiner believes there is no substitute for the real thing to send his fellow veterans on the right note.
âI always thought I was going to die falling from a bandstand. So far, that hasn’t happened,â Reiner said.