LINDSBORG — Mark Casebeer has played "Taps" on his trumpet more times than he can count.
A Lindsborg resident and member of King Midas and the Muflers for the past 30 years, Casebeer said he performs "Taps" for funerals because he is asked.
"I'm a very good trumpet player," Casebeer said.
When a friend asked Casebeer a few years ago to count the number of funerals at which he had played, he estimated it was over 1,000.
"A while back, I had seven funerals in 14 days — two of them on the same day," Casebeer said.
Casebeer is a volunteer with Bugles Across America, which fields requests for live buglers at funerals in all 50 states.
"I've played in Fort Scott and the Kansas City area in emergency situations where they couldn't get anybody else to play," Casebeer said. "...Sometimes, when I go quite a ways off, people will give me money for gas and I'll take it, but usually it's volunteer."
Casebeer started playing "Taps" during his years of military service.
"I think I probably did 40 or 50 (funerals) in the Army because Vietnam was going on," Casebeer said.
It was also during that time that Casebeer played at the funeral of President Eisenhower in Abilene.
"We went on a bus to Salina and played for Nixon to get off his plane and on his helicopter and went back to Abilene to play when he got off his helicopter," Casebeer recalled. "Then we went back to the railroad station and formed up to have the parade. It was a big day."
Casebeer not only plays "Taps" at funerals, he also takes his trumpet to Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies around the area. He has been a fixture at Roxbury's Memorial Day observations for 40 years.
"The Japanese, German and Italians would have a Memorial Day service every year at the prisoner of war cemetery at Fort Riley and they'd ask me to play," Casebeer said.
Donning a black suit and white gloves, Casebeer has played funerals in every kind of weather. For winter months, he adds layers of clothing under his suit and wears two pairs of gloves.
"When it gets way too cold, my armature freezes, so I have to sit in the car until it's time," Casebeer said.
Not only does Casebeer play at the funerals of veterans, he also performs "Taps" for public servants such as law enforcement officers, firemen and politicians including his uncle, John Casebeer, a former McPherson County commissioner.
Casebeer also played "Taps" at his own father's funeral, staying in McPherson Cemetery afterwards to play for another funeral held an hour later that same day.
Casebeer keeps a program from every funeral at which he has played.
"People thank me and I say, 'it's an honor and a privilege,'" Casebeer said. "...I'm going to do this as long as I can."
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.