On the day they buried Beecher Pierce, Nichelle Cushing stood at parade rest in a cold, pounding rain, some hundred yards from the coffin. High-top, lace-up boots slightly apart. A black beret cocked with formal precision on her hair. A small American flag pinned near the neck of her long black dress. One hand behind her back, the other gripping a 105-year-old bugle.
As Pierce's Masonic brothers concluded the rites, a gun squad of airmen in dress blue uniforms raised their rifles. Three volleys echoed across Fort Richardson National Cemetery.
Nichelle brought her boots together, shut her eyes, drew her full 5 feet and 1 inch to attention, raised the bugle to her lips and sounded the nation's final tribute to a fallen hero -- taps.
The 15-year-old Palmer High School sophomore never met Pierce, an 80-year-old widower when he died Aug. 13 in Anchorage. She only knew he was a military veteran and thus deserved to have the traditional "lights out" signal played at his funeral and to have it played by a living, breathing human being.
"I feel our servicemen should be buried with an actual bugler," she said, "not a recording."
A fifteen year old girl who taught herself to play the bugle so that she could properly honor fallen veterans.
If there's a hope for this country's future, it's in the hearts and minds of young people like her.
Found at Ace's place.