LOUISVILLE, Ky. –
In 2010, Spc. Anthony Rayburn, 223rd Military Police Company, witnessed his first bugle call during a Boy Scout's event at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Steve Buttleman, the official bugler of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, played for the group of young men, where 10-year-old Rayburn vividly recalls telling his mother after, "When I grow up, I want to do that."
Rayburn and Buttleman found themselves in the exact location 12 years post their first engagement, during the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. In a chance run-in, Rayburn, supporting the event in a military police capacity, shared the impactful memory with his childhood inspiration and confessed he had followed through on the aspiration.
Today, Rayburn plays the Bugle as a member of the Kentucky National Guard's Honor Guard, the state's only bugle player, not in the band.
"Now, at 22, as a bugler for the army, I have the highest privilege of playing Taps at military funerals," said Rayburn. "A lot of it boils down to Steve's influence on me when I was 10-years-old, and it brought me to where I am now."
During the Derby, Buttleman asked if the enlisted trumpet player would join him on Memorial Day for the playing of Taps.
The bugle call known as "Taps" dates from the American Civil War. The name derives from three drum taps traditionally followed the lights-out call. Today Taps is played at 2100 (9 p.m.) as a signal for lights out on military installations but has also become the staple 24-notes played during the burial of a service member.
As a former Scoutmaster and father to an Eagle Scout, Buttleman got teary-eyed listening to Rayburn share his story.
"It's all very humbling," Buttleman said. "I get choked up thinking about it. When you realize what you do has an impact on somebody enough that they want to pursue it into adulthood is an enormously gratifying and humbling feeling.
The two stood tall, playing the traditional tune in an echoed pattern before retreating into the iconic Church Hill Downs tower, where Buttleman gifted the young Soldier a traditional Boy Scout's bugle and patch.
"This is for sure going up on my wall when I get home," exclaimed Rayburn.