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Watch: Arredondo commemorates special days with music

The smooth notes of the National Anthem emerged from the trumpet, circled the rotunda of the Illinois Monument and flowed out across the Vicksburg National Military Park.  

The music was the work of a lone trumpeter, Vicksburg resident Elias Arredondo, who for the past 17 years has played “Taps” at the park’s Memorial Day program and who on his own makes occasional visits to the park to play on special occasions like the Fourth of July.

A retired civil engineer from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Arredondo has been playing “Taps” for the park’s Memorial Day service since 2003.

His other performances at the park, he said, are done on his own “because I enjoy it; I like to go out there and play to commemorate certain days. One time I came with my son and we played together.”

His affiliation with the park began soon after moving to Vicksburg.

Arredondo is a member of Bugles Across America, an organization of volunteer musicians who donate their time to play “Taps” for veterans’ funerals and events like Memorial Day.

“When I moved to Vicksburg, I contacted the organization’s regional representative and he put me in touch with the park,” he said. “I let them know I played the trumpet and I was available if they needed something like that here and I started playing. Usually, I play at the flag at the Cairo.”

Arredondo has been playing trumpet since he was a junior in high school, and his affection for the instrument is linked to his Hispanic heritage.

“I’m Mexican, and the trumpet is a big part of Mexican music, so that was always one of the sounds I had in my mind,” he said. Besides playing in the park, Arredondo also plays with the Vicksburg Orchestral Society, the Mississippi Winds Symphony, and the Mississippi Community Symphonic Band.

He has also played “Taps” for the city of Vicksburg’s Memorial Day program and plays at ERDC when they have a program requiring a trumpet.

He enjoys playing in the rotunda of the Illinois Monument.

“The echo (in the rotunda) is really nice because you get a lot of feedback, Arredondo said. “You hear yourself well. On the stage sometimes you don’t really hear yourself. When you’re behind the horn, you don’t get to hear much. In here, it magnifies everything.”

And he doesn’t plan on putting the horn down anytime soon.

“I started playing in high school and it’s been a hobby ever since,” he said. “I tried to quit, but I can’t. I’m going to continue playing until I think I’m not able to do it anymore.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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