Aside from U.S. military funerals, Taps is also traditionally played at civilian funerals of people who had in their life served in the U.S. military. A common practice is for the VFW, a community organization of veterans, to perform a gun salute and Taps. Rick May served in the U.S. Army.
The four drum ruffles Valve plays in a U.S. military fanfare before playing Taps in Saluting the Fallen has origins in the Revolutionary War, a practice we inherited jointly from the British and the Prussians. The infantry had drums to signal maneuvers while the cavalry employed trumpets. Originally the infantry and cavalry gave their ruffles and flourishes separately by units, with more repeats of the signals for the higher ranks so saluted as they passed by. But, years after WWII, they are combined, and are generally performed by full bands so that the ruffles aren’t so noticeable. Most commonly, Ruffles and Flourishes is heard on television as the four-repeat fanfare preceding Hail to the Chief; but, I figure Valve can retire the Team Captain at any rank they want to.
- Diane Wright, Stage chameleon tackles role of Teddy Roosevelt,The Seattle Times, September 14, 2005, p. H23.