Nightly "Taps" makes neighbors take notice

Don Brittain
CBS News

(CBS News) TACOMA, Wash. - Residents of a quiet little neighborhood in Tacoma have been hearing something wonderful for the past couple of years just as the sun begins to set over Puget Sound. That something is a song. Twenty-four of the most poignant notes ever strung together, "Taps."

One neighborhood resident said "when you hear the first note, everything in our house comes to a complete halt."

Another resident said that they "kind of let it wash over [them]."

Although the notes have been played before, everywhere from military funerals to Boy Scout campfires, rarely is "Taps" heard coming off of a back porch in a suburban neighborhood.

Don Brittain has been playing trumpet since he was a kid. He even played in a band for a while, but he's never taken it as seriously as he does now.

"I'm in another zone when I am playing," said Don. "I'm not aware of anything other than the fact that I'm playing this and I'm trying to play it as best as I can."

Every morning the 78-year-old retired aerospace worker checks the paper to see when the sunset is and every afternoon he practices for his nightly performance.

Don mostly does this in appreciation for our military.

"[I want to] support our guys who are over there fighting" said Don. "I had polio as a kid so I couldn't serve."

For him, that was one of the worst things about getting polio.

"I would have served in a heartbeat," he said.

Yet, Don's daily ritual is not just for the soldiers, it's also for his neighbors. They now take it as seriously as Don does. As soon as Don begins to play, his neighbors come outside and stand at attention.

"It seems to move people," said Don. "It has an effect on them."

In our everyday, hectic lives there is almost nothing that gets people to stop like this and reflect, but in Tacoma, under Don's leadership, people spend twenty-four notes nightly doing exactly that.

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  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.