Bugles Across America was founded by Tom J. Day in 2000 following new legislation passed by Congress that allowed uniformed military servicemen to fold the flag and play Taps via an electronic device. As a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Mr. Day was enthused by the new law; however, he sought to alter the law and have Taps play at funerals by skilled buglers at cemeteries across the nation. As such, Bugless Across America was born and has been met with unmatched acclaim and success.
Bugles Across America possesses more than 5,000 volunteers comprised of men, women and children as of 2021, and they have notably played approximately 3,000 funerals per month over the past 21 years, culminating in a total of more than 126,000 funerals. Volunteers who desire to play for Bugles Across America must first pass an initial audition in which they exemplify their skills to play Taps the way it has been intended. As Bugles Across America gained recognition over the years, Mr. Day participated in the change of state laws throughout Illinois to allow middle school students play Taps at funerals, thereby providing them with civics credits in school.
Mr. Day served for eight years in the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of sergeant. He also was a member of the United States Navy for four years and was an instructor and cadet for the United States Army Junior ROTC for 10 years. After graduating from high school, Mr. Day earned a full scholarship to Ferris Island, South Carolina, where he attended boot camp. He was ultimately inspired by his father and siblings, who also served in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserves.
Notably, Mr. Day and Bugles Across America were featured in several media, including the Cape Cod Times, The Wall Street Journal and Scouting Magazine, as well as performed before the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1996. Likewise, they have performed at several sports games for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Fire and Chicago Packers. Mr. Day received a recommendation letter from former director of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Gill Gallo, at the Abraham National Cemetery, as well as additional recommendation letters from U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin, former treasurer of Illinois, Judy Baar Topinka, and community service chairperson of the Swallow Cliff chapter of the Illinois Daughters of the Revolution, Ruth Williams, among other prominent individuals.
To attest to his resounding success, Mr. Day received a Certificate of Appreciation for Community Service by the Daughters of the American Revolution and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Montclair-Lucania Funeral Home in 2004. Earlier, the Daughters of the American Revolution bestowed upon him a Medal of Honor in 1996 and, that same year, he was named a Knight by the Royal Order of St. Joachim. Impressively, Mr. Day was recognized by the Government of Austria with a Gold Medal for Achievement in 1994. He has also earned several Congressional Gold Medals and Distinguished Service Awards.