On a mild Christmas night on Martinsville’s town square, the solitary notes of Taps pierce the quiet darkness, each note falling over a crowd of dozens who have come to hear the lonely anthem, along with names of the fallen.
They’re the names of America's sons and daughters who have died in service to their country.
Like the 6 killed this week by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. And so it has been, this weekly ritual in the center of town, every Friday night for the past 3 years.
First, the names of the fallen and military veterans who have passed away are read aloud. Then, 3 buglers, led by Bruce McKee, play Taps.
That this Friday fell on Christmas made no difference. They came anyway.
"Even if just one person showed up, we'd still do it," said McKee.
But it's never just one. There are always at least a few. Tonight there are dozens.
"Every week it touches me, just watching people,” said McKee. “We have families that are here every week."
Don and Janice Schaudwedker, Avon, have come to hear their oldest son's name read aloud.
"Staff Sergeant Richard A Blakley," said the announcer.
This is their tenth Christmas without him. It never gets any easier.
"It never goes away and they say the holidays are the hardest,” Janice Schauwedker said.
"It's the biggest nightmare of every gold star parent out there that they'll be forgotten,” said Don Schauwedker. “Things like this make sure they're not."
This town and county are no strangers to the sacrifices of war. A memorial to those from here who have died serving is evidence of that.
"This is a very patriotic little town and they deserve a lot of credit for what they do," Don Schauwedker said.
Bruce McKee knows next week there'll be more names. "I don't want to read their names,” he said. “It breaks my heart."
But they will be read, every Friday, no matter the weather, no matter the date on the calendar.
This country's finest, sent off with 24 melancholy notes.
A final song.