Taps is a hit with Keesler's neighbors in Biloxi

pochs@sunherald.com Twitter: PatrickOchsJuly 5, 2014 

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BILOXI -- When Keesler Air Force Base decided to play taps nightly across the whole base on its "big voice system," a news release was sent out that apologized for any inconveniences.

Instead of receiving complaints about the decision, the base has received just the opposite.

The news brief that ran on the Sun Herald's Facebook page received more than 100 likes and 30 comments -- almost all of which were positive; the only negative comments complained Keesler shouldn't need to apologize at all.

The reverent bugle tune, as it turns out, resonates with Keesler's neighbors as much as it reverberates down the nearby streets.

"No complaints here. I enjoy the twice (now thrice) daily music from Keesler," Frank Ellsworth posted, referring to taps being added to reveille and retreat.

Jack Wright, a 20-year Air Force veteran who lives across Irish Hill Drive from the base, welcomes the nightly refrain.

"I think it's great. It really is. Sometimes you can't hear it too clear because there's an echo, but most of the time it's loud and clear," he said. "With retreat, when you hear it you just want to stop and listen to it. And taps, you know the day is done like it says. I definitely stop and listen to all of them."

Crystal Kent posted that the song makes her think of her father.

"I remember taps being played on Keesler when I was growing up," she wrote. "My dad would pull the car over and if we were close to a flag pole, get out to stand at attention and salute, even if he wasn't in uniform."

Joe Jones, a barber at nearby Dane's Barber Shop, said he thinks everyone seems to have time for taps.

"I think it's good," he said. "It gives you that short amount of time to stop and reflect about what you have."

Brig. Gen. Patrick Higby said he made the decision to play taps nightly after visiting other military installations. The tune allows the airmen to pay homage to their predecessors, he said.

"First and foremost, it reminds us whose shoulders we're standing on, all of America's fighting men and women who have gone before us, 1.3 million of which have fallen in combat," he said.

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