CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — William Russell, 16, is a Boy Scout who can play a trumpet. Those happen to be two qualities (service and music) that make him the perfect candidate for the Taps For Tuition program in Nueces County. Another high note about this program for William is the fact that his father and grandfather served in the military.
“This tradition (playing Taps) means a lot to me, and so it’s for myself. I wanna play Taps when my grandfather and father’s time comes. I wanna be the one to be there,” said William.
The newly formed “Taps for Tuition” program is now in effect at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery. It helps preserve that time-honored tradition of playing the emotional melody at military funerals. Students in grades 6 through 12 and at post-secondary educational institutions can participate. It can earn them $25 vouchers toward higher education costs through the Texas Veterans Commission‘s taps tuition voucher program.
“It’s not just about the tuition. It’s an important way to give back to the community,” said William.
William’s father Michael, who served in the Persian Gulf War, encouraged him to get involved in the Taps for Tuition program. Michael now beams with pride watching his son paying tribute to those who served.
“I am honored and happy that he understands what service is about and that he understands what our veterans … our soldiers are giving up for our country for us. Freedom is not free and I want him to understand and grasp that and I think he is,” said Michael.
William’s fourth funeral service playing Taps was for Vietnam War Veteran Jackie Hart. His daughter Cassandra believes the Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient would have gotten a kick out of seeing this young man play at his funeral.
“Oh, I think he would’ve been really tickled. I think he would really enjoyed it and appreciated it,” said Hart.
To participate in the program, students can contact the Nueces County Veterans Services Officer at 361-888-0820.
More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans.
Contact Veterans In Focus reporter Pat Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org