Sometimes music can say more than words.
When a 13-year-old Scout in New Jersey learned that 37 people had died from the coronavirus at a veterans home near his house, he wanted to offer his own kind of tribute.
Alex Saldana, a Life Scout from Troop 36 of Oradell, N.J., (Northern New Jersey Council) stood outside the New Jersey Veterans Home in Paramus and played “Taps” on his trumpet. The song, often played at bedtime during Scout campouts, is commonly part of military funerals as well.
Alex got as close to the veterans home entrance as the National Guard troops stationed there would allow. Then he began playing.
“I know it’s very hard for them right now, and they made the ultimate sacrifice for this country,” Alex told NorthJersey.com. “I wanted to show respect and give them a sign of hope throughout this outbreak and sad time.”
Alex doesn’t intend this to be a one-time tribute. He plans to continue playing “Taps” and the Marine Corps hymn every night for as many nights as he can.
“I’m hoping it will start to give them hope that things will get better,” Alex told NBC News. “That they’re not forgotten.”
This act of respect and recognition for these fallen heroes gained national attention when it was featured in the April 9 broadcast of the NBC Nightly News. You can watch that video at the end of this post.
If you or a Scout in your family is considering a similar tribute, please review your state’s stay-at-home rules and the BSA’s COVID-19 policies. In New Jersey, where Alex lives, people are permitted to engage in outdoor activities as long as they stay at least six feet apart, which Alex did.
More about Alex’s tribute
Alex is the official Troop 36 bugler, a position of responsibility that allows him to use his four years of trumpeting experience to help his troop. He plays “Taps” at every meeting and campout.
Alex chose to play at the veterans home because the place already has a special connection for him. His dad, David, is a veteran himself, having served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Alex plans to complete his Eagle Scout project at the veterans home once it’s safe to begin work. He’ll hold a collection drive to provide essential supplies to the facility.
Alex’s mom, Melissa, told NorthJersey.com that her son’s selfless act doesn’t surprise her one bit because Alex has “an enormous heart, and he always wants to make others feel loved.”
“We are happy that he was able to take his talents and use them in a positive way during this tragic time that we’re all experiencing,” she says.