NEW JERSEY -- A 13-year-old Boy Scout has been playing Taps every night outside a New Jersey nursing home where more than 100 veterans have died amid the coronavirus pandemic, and over the holiday weekend, he concluded a special Memorial Day ceremony.
Alex Saldana joined the Passaic Valley Elks Lodge for a flag-planting ceremony outside the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home, where more than 100 small American flags were placed on the front lawn as a reminder of those at the home who have died from the coronavirus.
"Nowadays many kids might not think of this and they need to realize what these men have done for us and how they gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country," Saldana said.
It was his idea to start playing Taps outside the home, and he has played there every night since April 8.
"Fantastic. He brings tears to people's eyes when he plays," said George Osborne with the Elks Lodge.
Osborne is also a veteran. "It's a personal bond that every veteran feels when someone serves, it's a brotherhood," he said.
The Elks Lodge has held events at veterans' homes for years, and on Sunday, they placed more than 100 flags on the front lawn.
"These families are seeing their loved ones from a window, and they can't hug them," Osborne said.
Saldana's efforts mean a lot to his father, who is a veteran too.
"When that song started to play, everything just froze on base, we would all just freeze and pay respects for everyone who has come before us," David Saldana said.
Alex has been taught that respect. He points out Taps runs about 38 seconds.
"The reactions I've gotten, I've seen people get emotional, and I really understand that and I'm so happy I'm giving them hope and helping them out by just playing Taps, it's not even a minute, but it's helping them so much and I'm so grateful for doing that," Saldana said.