On Saturday, November 13, 2021, Ed Skirtich died. He was our bugler.
Whenever we served a family of a veteran, an offer was made to have a live bugler. For the past 15 years, or so, when a family wished for that special touch for their deceased veteran, we called upon Ed Skirtich to play ‘Taps’ at the Presentation of Military Honors. Ed was astoundingly excellent at that musical tribute. And he performed in spite of physical obstacles that would shackle a lesser man.
Please allow a personal reflection about Ed.
My favorite story about Ed occurred over 10 years ago on February 19, 2011. Prior to that date, Ed had spent the better part of six weeks in a hospital battling an illness that nearly caused his death. Steve Minnaji, a WW II veteran and ex-Prisoner of War was being buried that day in Braddock Catholic Cemetery. His family was steadfast that he deserved a live bugler to sound “Taps” at his graveside. Even though only a couple of weeks from his hospital stay, Ed was pleased and eager to provide his service to the Minnaji family.
On that winter day, Ed and his Mom arrived at the cemetery ahead of the funeral procession and parked 30 yards from the grave. At the end of the committal prayer service at the graveside, Ed began a 30 yard trudge with his walker, aided by the guidance of his Mom. As he approached the grave, the Honor Guard in place, his pants fell down due to his weight loss from his illness. Thankfully, he was wearing an overcoat due to the weather. Stephanie, a funeral director, rushed to his aid and lifted his pants, holding them up during his robust rendition of “Taps”. Unfazed, Ed belted those notes so powerfully they seemingly could be heard a mile away in Rankin. Steve Minnaji was properly honored and his sons graciously thanked Ed and the Army for their parts. As Ed turned in his walker to slowly shuffle on to his car, 2 of the Minnaji boys hoisted Ed on their shoulders and carried him to his car, just as soldiers would carry a victorious comrade.
Ed continued to play his trumpet for dozens of Military Honor presentations over the years. And he played “Taps” with gusto, dignity, and pride.
Thank you, Ed, for serving those families and honoring their dead heroes.
You will always be remembered. May God be good to you.