North Central College - Naperville, IL

Volunteering with honor

Richard Yndestad ’90, a veteran and longtime musician, has found his passion as a volunteer bugler—a gesture of gratitude for military servicemen and women. He drives from his Naperville home weekly to the expansive fields of Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL, to play bugle at military funerals. He does so with a humble motivation: to ensure the deceased receive an honorable salute.

The event that sparked Yndestad’s interest occurred when he attended the funeral of a former Marine at the cemetery and didn’t think it was right when “Taps” was played as an audio recording from a boom box. By law, “Taps” must be played at every military funeral. He’d only been playing bugle for a short time, but Yndestad decided to volunteer for the Memorial Squad. The squad serves at 15 to 30 funerals every day for the recently deceased, those who are moved from another cemetery and those whose family had been holding on to their remains.

“When ‘Taps’ is played right, it should be a solemn tribute to the veteran and family,” said Yndestad.

The squad’s 100 volunteers make sure that every veteran’s funeral has a three-volley salute, a presentation of the American flag to the next of kin and a live bugler playing “Taps.” Sometimes, a bagpiper plays “Amazing Grace,” too.

Yndestad has played at more than 600 funerals so far and considers it a small price to pay for all that members of the Armed Forces do for Americans. “We owe it to them,” he said. “Ask any one of us, you’ll get that same response.”

Yndestad previously served in the U.S. Army during the mid-’60s. Following his military career, he worked with Wescom Telephone Products while also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business management at North Central’s Weekend College program. Yndestad has been a musician since age 19 and plays guitar, bass and drums. While he has only been playing the bugle for three years, it has opened new doors for him.

This year is the 150th anniversary of “Taps,” and to commemorate the occasion Yndestad will perform in May at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., with other members of Bugles Across America. In June, he will play at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, VA, where a bugler from the Union Army during the Civil War first played “Taps” in 1862.

North Central NOW Winter 2012