A cadet stands at attention as a first-quarter moon rises over the New Mexico Military Institute campus during the Silver Taps ceremony, Thursday evening. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Under a first-quarter moon and dark azure sky, the sound of bugles playing taps echoed from New Mexico Military Instituteâ€™s quadrangle inside Hagerman Barracks, Thursday evening. The candlelight vigil was held to commemorate the 110 alumni who died this past year.
The co-educational military boarding high school and junior college holds the somber ceremony in memory of deceased cadets every year during its homecoming celebrations.
â€œItâ€™ll send chills up your spine,â€ Michael Ortiz, Class of 1985, said.
Groups of alumni were huddled outside in the middle of the quad, surrounded by 900 silent members of the Corps of Cadets, frozen in formation. Each of the 110 names were read, and uniformed cadets posted in the east side of the barracks lit and extinguished candles to remember each of the fallen.
Then, three buglers stationed in separate towers of Hagerman Barracks (one to the north, one to the south and one to the west) played taps three times in a tradition called Silver Taps, or Echo Taps. The haunting melody reverberated throughout the courtyard and lingered in the night air.
â€œItâ€™s really a very important tradition,â€ Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Richard V. Geraci (Retired Army) said. He added, â€œItâ€™s a pretty moving ceremony.â€
Afterwards, the crowd slowly dispersed and moved on to attend a social gathering at Quarters One on campus hosted by NMMI Superintendent Maj. Gen. and Mrs. Jerry W. Grizzle.
According to tradition, the Corps must remain silent for the rest of the night in remembrance.