MATTHEWS – Every evening before sunset, Steve Davis stands on his front porch, raises his trumpet to his mouth and plays “Taps.”
The sound echoes down Wilcrest Drive and across the Country Place neighborhood in Matthews, where 76-year-old Davis lives with his wife of 10 years. Neighbors come outside as soon as they hear the first few notes of the well-known bugle call, which is typically played at dusk, during flag ceremonies and at military funerals by the United States Armed Forces.
Some are already outside waiting for Davis to play what has become a nightly neighborhood tradition since Memorial Day.
“Across the street, they stand there with their hands over their heart and they cheer when it’s over,” Davis said.
Davis is a retired Air Force staff sergeant who grew up in a military family in Charlotte. He played the French horn in middle school but had always been interested in the trumpet. He was learning how to play the instrument when Memorial Day rolled around.
That day, he decided to put his skills to the test by participating in a nationwide call to play “Taps” at 2 p.m.
“I managed to squeeze into my Air Force uniform – it’s been 50 years since I wore it – and played ‘Taps,’” he said.
At first, Davis was concerned he would annoy some of his neighbors. He never expected people would like the music, let alone look forward to it every night.
“A lady down the street who I didn’t even know said her husband was in the military and it brings tears to her eyes and she loves hearing it,” Davis said.
More and more people started showing up after someone shared Davis’ address on the neighborhood app Nextdoor. He said the support from his neighbors inspired him to keep the tradition going.
“I think during this time when we’re all shut in and so much bad stuff is going on in our country, they appreciate the patriotism and the feeling of community,” he
Anna Marie Neubert lives in Country Place and happened upon Davis playing “Taps” while walking around the neighborhood with her 3-year-old son. Now, she said her son looks forward to it and cries if he hears the trumpet from a distance and they aren’t able to make it there in time.
“One time, he went into a full-blown sprint like, ‘We have to get up there. We have to get up the hill,’” Neubert said.
She sees “Taps” as a nice tradition and positive reminder of the importance of community and reflection during trying times. For some families, she said, it signals the end of the day and offers some much-needed structure.
“My son loves it,” Neubert said. “He just gets to experience this whole community-wide patriotism, which is great since all of our community events have been canceled.”