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Protocol for Taps


One question I get often is what to do when Taps is sounded. What exactly is the protocol? In a nutshell, it’s the same protocol as when you hear the national anthem.


Taps is sounded at funerals, memorial services and wreath laying ceremonies. It is also the last call played at US military bases in the evening. Performance consists of 24 notes sounded on a bugle or trumpet. Taps is performed by a solo bugler without accompaniment or embellishment. Although sometimes performed with an echo, Taps is really meant to be sounded by a single bugler.

For more information on the origin of Taps CLICK HERE

At funerals, military honors follow a certain sequence dictated by tradition and protocol. Three rifle volleys are fired, followed by the sounding of Taps. The flag is then folded and presented to the Next-of-Kin.

Sometimes there is not a firing party available and Taps will be sounded upon the signal from the military or funeral home director.

The sequence at Arlington National Cemetery can be found here.

At memorial services or special events Taps is usually sounded toward the end of the program, usually before the benediction or dismissal. At wreath laying ceremonies, Taps is usually sounded after the wreath (or last one if there are several) is presented.


During a rendition of Taps at a military funeral, memorial service or wreath laying ceremony,

– All present not in uniform should stand at attention with the right hand over the heart;

– Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart;

– Individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of Taps and maintain that position until the last note (note: if you are inside and uncovered, you stand at attention);

– Veterans and active-duty service-members not in uniform may render the hand salute;

– If you are inside and not in uniform it is proper to stand during Taps

– When Taps is sounded in the evening as the final call of the day at military bases, salutes are not required.

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  1. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | October 20, 2019

    The protocol for Taps was something we submitted to Congress when we made Taps the National Song of Remembrance.

    I do not think ANYONE would deny a veteran to render a hand salute while Taps is sounded. It is a right and privilege all veterans have earned by virtue of their service.

    Also I’d like to see where it says No to rendering a hand salute online

    Thanks much for your service

  2. Raminah Harbour Raminah Harbour October 19, 2019

    Do you have a source for the allowing of veterans out of uniform to salute when Taps is played? Everything I find online says no, and the 2009 law only addresses the national anthem or raising/lowering of the flag. I am a vet as is my dad, who has less than two weeks to live. If my stepmom arranged for Taps to be played, I’d like to honor him with the salute he has more than earned.

  3. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | October 5, 2019

    Place your hand over your heart, or if you are in uniform, render a hand salute.

  4. harmony cannon harmony cannon October 4, 2019

    I’m playing taps for Veterans day next month for My Middle school and I was wondering what is the respectful thing to do after that

  5. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | September 22, 2019

    Taps is meant for honoring he military persons

  6. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | September 22, 2019

    Not really
    AFPAM 34-1202 paragraph states the playing of Taps is not part of the POW/MIA ceremony. It’s symbolic of the death of a service member and the POWs and MIAs have not been declared deceased.

    However the other services do not address this

  7. William Coston William Coston September 22, 2019


    During the POW/MIA ceremony is it appropriate to play
    TAPS? and is there a specific instruction that I can reference

  8. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | September 22, 2019

    Place hand over heart

  9. anonymous anonymous September 16, 2019

    Hello I’m performing Taps for my Middle school on the announcements on veterans day What do I do after that when I’m done to be respectful for fallen veterans

  10. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | July 2, 2019

    Render a hand salute after you complete Taps

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