PARAMUS, N.J. (WABC/CNN) – For over a month, a 13-year-old Boy Scout has played “Taps” outside a veterans’ home in New Jersey, paying tribute to those who have died from COVID-19.
Alex Saldana, 13, joined a flag-planting ceremony Sunday outside the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home in Paramus, New Jersey, where at least 79 veterans have died from COVID-19. The Boy Scout has been playing “Taps” outside the home every night since April 8.
“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,” Alex said.
The flag-planting ceremony was put on by Passaic Valley Elks Lodge, which has held events at the veterans’ home for years. George Osborne, a member of the Elks Lodge and a veteran himself, says Alex’s efforts mean a lot.
“He brings tears to people’s eyes when he plays,” Osborne said. “These families are seeing their loved ones from a window, and they can’t hug them.”
Alex’s father, David Saldana, is a veteran. His son’s playing brought tears to his eyes.
“When that song started to play, everything just froze on base. Everybody would just freeze, and you pay respect for everyone that has come before us,” Saldana said.
Alex has been taught that respect. He points out “Taps” runs about 38 seconds.
“From the reactions I’ve gotten, I’ve seen people get emotional, and I really understand that. I’m so happy I’m giving them hope and helping them out by just playing ‘Taps.’ Not even a minute, but it’s helping them so much, and I’m so grateful for doing that,” he said.