Silver Taps is that final tribute paid to an Aggie who, at the time of his death, was enrolled in graduate or undergraduate courses at Texas A&M. It began in 1898 when the first Silver Taps was held in honor of Lawrence Sullivan Ross.
Over time, new traditions have been added to Silver Taps. In the 1920’s, the flag was placed at half-staff the day of Silver Taps. The special music "Silver Taps," composed by Colonel Richard J. Dunn, was played by two buglers during the 1930’s. This haunting arrangement is not formally written; it is passed from bugler to bugler. Formerly, Silver Taps was observed as soon as possible after the death of an Aggie. Today it is held on the first Tuesday of each month from September to April, if necessary.
Three volleys are fired. "Silver Taps" is played by six buglers three times – to the North, West, and South. It is not played to the East because the sun will never again rise on this Aggie. This concludes the ceremony, but not the feelings of respect and honor.
Silver Taps at A&M
By Mrs. Jeanette Hennigan
You hear about the Aggie Band
And the Spirit of Aggieland.
But few have heard the Farewell Hymn
Of Silver Taps at A&M
All day the flag flies at half-mast.
A sign to us of a solemn task,
To bid farewell to one who’s gone.
With Silver Taps he’s not alone.
The night is dark and very still.
Where Sully stands the area fills
With a silent crowd of those who care.
Their hearts all joined in silent prayer
The Ross Volunteers, the honor guard,
Speak for us all as their guns discharge.
Twenty-one guns now blast the air
And fade away in the darkness there.
The taps blow loud from the tower near.
And twice again so faint, yet clear.
Like rustling wings of a soul in flight,
Silver Taps fades in the night.
You stand spellbound, you scarcely breathe.
With heavy heart you turn to leave.
Your Aggie friend no more you’ll see,
Till Silver Taps is blown for thee.
Silver Taps at A&M
Will always be our farewell hymn
To those who’ve gone to heights unknown.
With Silver Taps, he journeys on.