CALVERTON, NY (WTVR) - Hard economic times mean budget cut backs, and in New York state the axe is falling on military funerals.
Because of budget problems, the National Guard is cutting real bugle players at funerals in the empire state. The 150 year tradition of TAPS will now be played from a recording at the grave sites of service men and women, rather than from the brass of a live musician.
The National Guard lost a quarter of its funding, and says the cut will take place beginning August 1st.
Now New York veterans are coming forward to complain, saying virtual taps is no way to honor people who have given so much.
"Certainly everybody who has served this country and was awarded a purple heart and managed to stay alive to receive it, they deserve that," said Randy Jergensen, a Korean War veteran.
There is hope the ritual can be salvaged on Long Island. The American Airpower Museum says their board and philanthropists are working to fund live buglers to play taps at all military funerals in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
But even if the tradition is saved on Long Island, veterans say they worry about what will happen across the rest of New York and the nation. With budget cut and so many staff members deployed overseas--some military funerals may have no honor guard at all.
A spokesman for the New York National Guard says that by cutting buglers, they will be able to send a live soldier to every military funeral. Taps will be played on an electronic trumpet at least, and not on a boombox.
The total amount needed to save the live "taps" will be about 30-thousand-dollars per year. Several other groups in new york are trying to raise those funds.