A Texas city is mourning the loss of a war veteran who for five years brought his busy neighbors to a halt every night at dusk when he stood on a balcony with a bugle and played “Taps” for friends he lost in battle.
The streets of Galveston, Tex. would become still at sunset as 84-year-old Guy Taylor’s solemn military tune resonated around corners and stopped residents in their tracks.
“When he played taps, it meant so much to so many people. Everything would just come to a stop. It was beautiful and absolutely incredible,” Galveston Constable Clint Wayne Brown told TIME on Friday. “He kept something alive.”
Taylor, a Marine Corp veteran who served in Korea, died Tuesday. Now the city is planning a tribute to commemorate him next month where thousands will gather to hear “Taps” played for him. It’s part of a promise Brown made to make sure Taylor’s tradition continues.
Taylor joined the Marines in 1950 and fought in the Korean War, according to the city. He was credited with saving the lives of two of his fellow comrades but lost friends in war, Brown said.
Taylor told those who asked him that he decided to broadcast “Taps” at dusk to honor his friends but also to pay respects to all the men and women who have and are serving the country. Brown said Taylor had emphysema, a lung disease, so he mostly let a pre-recording run while keeping the bugle tight to his lips.
“You sit back and recognize our men and servicewomen who sacrificed their lives for us. It brings you back, keeps you humble,” said Eric Tucker, who was one of Taylor’s neighbors. “It gave you a sense of pride and a little bit of sadness. He was a true American hero.”
Some older men cried when they heard the song. Others saluted in silence. Groups of people would wait for an hour to watch, Brown said.
“It’s hard to put into words what he meant to the city,” Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough told TIME. “He was a pillar in the community.”
Brown said he plans to take it upon himself to keep Taylor’s legacy alive. “I can’t let it die. He would not want to let it die,” he said, acknowledging that he wouldn’t come close to filling Taylor’s shoes.
“It’s a big loss for the city. We’re never going to replace him,” Brown said. “This was a true champion.”