WWII filmmaker honors vets with TAPS
Grand Junction Colorado —
For the past 13 years documentary filmmaker Larry Cappetto has been serving his country through the lens of a camera. Through his relentless efforts he has traveled over a half million miles across North America documenting and recording stories from American and Canadian war veterans. He’s compiled and assembled one of the largest oral histories ever recorded of Americans at war.
Mr. Cappetto is the producer of the award winning public television documentary series, Lest They Be Forgotten. These stories feature gripping first hand accounts from the veterans themselves. “History is best learned from those who were there.”
“When I started my work in 2003 the Smithsonian Institute statistics stated 1500 World War II veterans were dying every day in our country. Over the years there has always been a great urgency about my work. To date I have interviewed over 1000 veterans.”
Sadly, with the loss of so many of his heroes, Mr. Cappetto’s work has become somewhat bittersweet the past few years.
“It seems a day or week doesn’t go by where I receive another email phone call or letter in the mail from a widow who just lost her loved one. I remember clearly and vividly the first veteran I lost, a World War II veteran I interviewed in Arizona in 2003.”
Since that time Cappetto has lost hundreds of veterans from World War II, Korea and the Vietnam War.
“Many times I feel like I’m fighting my own battle (war). I’ve got my brigade, my battalion and the ranks are growing thinner each year.”
As Cappetto has proudly honored these men and women in life capturing their stories, (giving voice to our veterans) and preserving their legacy for future generations of Americans, he has now embarked upon a new chapter and adventure on his journey by honoring these unsung heroes in death.
Mr. Cappetto is now a Military Honors Bugler.
“With the passing of so many of veterans I felt a great need to continue honoring their memory and legacy. In September 2015 I purchased a professional regulation bugle from a company in California and began practicing TAPS at my home in Colorado.”
“It’s always an emotional thing for a family when TAPS is played. It’s the one time they’re going to hear it. It sort of brings down the curtain on someone’s life and is a sense of closure for the family, that final piece of music as the veteran is laid to rest.”
“Traditions are important and sounding TAPS is the most sacred duty a bugler can perform.”
Mr. Cappetto now spends his days researching and finding burial spots of the veterans he’s interviewed over the years. When he finds one he contacts the national or municipal cemetery where many of them are buried across the country and asks that a picture of the marker or gravestone be taken and emailed to him.
“It’s very emotional for me to think upon the interviews I did with these veterans and then to see and read their headstone inscription. It’s like I’ve come full circle with them.”
Starting in his home state of Colorado Mr. Cappetto has begun finding his veterans and then reverently and respectfully sounding TAPS over there gravesite after sharing a few short words. He then ends with a poignant salute and places a remembrance card at the headstone containing a photo of him and the veteran taken after their interview. The cards are laminated to help protect them from the weather.
“An act of remembrance is an act of honor. When we remember our veterans who served our country faithfully we are honoring them and helping preserve their memory and legacy, Lest They Be Forgotten.”
A poignant footnote to the story, Cappetto’s Father, Robert William Cappetto, was a professional trumpet player and played the trumpet in the United States Army during the Korean War. He died in 1968 in California. He never had TAPS sounded at his gravesite. Cappetto’s goal is to one day sound TAPS for him also.
For more information about Cappetto’s work please visit his website and GoFundMe page.
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Please watch. “The Origin of TAPS.”