Respect. Respect is a Norwich value. It’s something we learn, follow, use. Something that we try to earn and guard from being lost. Respect is a currency of professionalism. It’s something we strive for. And sometimes, when it is most called upon, respect is something that we give, every one of us, in our own way.
Last week, there was a call for respect. It comes as no surprise to anyone in the United States now about the tragedy of Boston, the bombings and death that washed over our friends, our classmates and our media. Some knew victims. Some had friends that were running the marathon. But everyone recognized the somber and solemn reason for our gathering last Wednesday night.
Each night, every night, Taps as a military custom is played by one of our buglers at 2200. It’s a quiet ceremony that closes every day and, sadly, is largely ignored. But at 2150 Wednesday night, all the UP-side room lights went out. The Upper Parade ground became silent and still, absent from its usual one or two loud students passing through. And for a campus that is usually itching to get out of uniform right at 1700, droves of students started to come outside, silently, dressed in Tunic. It was quieter than morning formation, or any other part of our waking day. The Corps, and a few civilians, had gathered once again for Echo Taps.
Echo Taps is a ceremony observed by the Corps in the aftermath of a tragedy. It is completely silent, from beginning to end; once outside, cadets simply stop talking, using hand motions and miming things to get their point across. The only sound is that of shoes moving, slowly or briskly, across the pavement. Everyone forms up in their respective platoons, goes to attention, and then waits, with baited breath, until that slow salute when the bugler begins to play.
It’s a heady thing to witness. The darkness, broken only by the dim lighting of outside lightposts, creates a murky, unfocused sort of world. The only real tangible thing is the stillness of hundreds of people and the slow, mournful sound of two echoing bugles, one after the other, playing taps. If you’ve never heard what Echo Taps sounds like, I suggest that you look it up. It’s beautiful.
And it’s completely voluntary. No accountability is taken, no one is forced to go. But they do. Because while respect may be a Norwich value, it’s bigger than Norwich. Or any one of us. And in the darkness, at 2200, we realize that.
I haven’t included a picture with this post. Nor do I need to. My hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to all those affected by this, and every tragedy, today.
Band Co. '15