North Dakota man says playing taps on Memorial Day for 50 years 'has been an honor'

While playing the trumpet at these cemeteries on Memorial Day the last 50 years was meaningful to Larson, this coming Memorial Day has even more significance to him.

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Mike Larson plays "Taps" on his trumpet at South Pleasant Cemetary near Christine, North Dakota. May 27, 2021.
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CHRISTINE, N.D. — Mike Larson's trumpet has been through a lot. It has been played in wind, rain and snow. He bought it when he was 16 years old using proceeds from his 4-H steer. It cost $375.

Larson grew up in Walcott, N.D., and started playing taps on Memorial Day when he was 14. He's carried on the tradition for 50 years.

"It has been an honor to do this," Larson said. "I was never in the service. I did have my draft card, and then the Vietnam War stopped at that time."

Larson, who has played at veterans' funerals, plays taps at a half-dozen cemeteries every Memorial Day, including at the South Pleasant Cemetery near Christine N.D.

Horace man says playing taps at cemeteries on Memorial Day for 50 years 'has been an honor'


"A lot of memories are for veteran funerals I played for," Larson said, "the vets who have passed, including a World War I veteran and a lot of World War II veterans."

Larson has family buried at South Pleasant Cemetery, which dates back to the 1890s. It is one reason he plays taps there every Memorial Day.

While playing the trumpet at these cemeteries the past 50 years has been meaningful to Larson, this Memorial Day has even more significance to him.

His father, LeMar Larson, a veteran of the Korean War, died from COVID-19 last fall. That makes Monday the first Memorial Day without his dad, who was part of the honor guard that came to the cemetery every year.

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Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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