Bugler crowdfunds uniform to play at veterans’ funerals

When St. Louis trumpet player Sarah Gamblin-Luig needed a Bugles Across America uniform, she turned to friends, family and strangers.

Gamblin-Luig set up her fundraiser on June 5; five days later, she hit her $550 goal.

“I didn’t imagine I would raise the money so quickly,” she said.

Gamblin-Luig started playing the trumpet as a sophomore in high school.

“It was much easier to play with a mouthpiece,” she said. “I think I have counted 21 years since I started playing, with a mouthpiece.”

Gamblin-Luig performed with a big-band group in college, and with BandTogether since 2005. She also performed in the Lesbian and Gay Band Association in the 2013 Inauguration Parade in Washington, D.C.

In 2000, legislation went into effect that allowed veterans’ families to request two service members to fold and present the American flag and sound taps from a bugler or a CD player.

Volunteers with Bugles Across America, an Illinois-based organization founded that same year, play taps at the funerals of veterans and other special events, like flag and wreath ceremonies. The taps tradition dates back to 1848, becoming a military funeral standard in 1891.

“For a trumpet player, taps isn’t all that technically challenging — it is only 24 notes,” Gamblin-Luig said. “But it can be the most difficult 24 notes you can ever play. It is the least I can do and it is a great honor.”

Gamblin-Luig signed up with Bugles Across America in July after receiving a request to play taps at a wreath laying ceremony at Soldiers’ Memorial in St. Louis.

“After I performed in that ceremony, I knew I had to sign up officially with Bugles Across America,” she said.

When her uniform arrives, Gamblin-Luig said she will begin performing taps at funeral services.

Families of veterans can request a bugler through Bugles Across America.