After more than 20 years of military service and multiple tours overseas, a veteran promised God that he would honor his fallen brothers and sisters. But, his city has banned him from doing it. When Americans heard the reason, they were outraged.
Joshua Corney is a retired Lieutenant Commander who is proud of his 20-year career in the US Navy, which included stops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Knowing that he could have ended up making the ultimate sacrifice to serve his country, he made a promise to God, during one tour in an Afghanistan combat zone, that if he lived to return home, he would honor those who weren’t so lucky by playing Taps every evening. And, it’s a promise he lived up to — until the city stepped in.
Like clockwork every evening, Corney belted out a rendition of the military bugle call “Taps” as his simple way to pay tribute to those who have served their country, and many of his neighbors enjoyed the sound. Unfortunately, the town council of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, stepped in to put a stop to the Corney’s 8 p.m. playing of Taps, preventing the veteran from being able to play the tribute from his home every evening.
“At one point, I made a promise to God that if he brought me home safe and sound that I would do something in remembrance of those that had fallen while I was there but to also those who have died in past wars and people who will die in future wars,” Corney explained.
His tribute was a hit with many in the neighborhood. One neighbor and a fellow military veteran was a pretty big fan of Corney’s little tribute. “It makes me take a moment and think of how fortunate I am,” neighbor Mike Patria said, calling the nightly serenade “soothing.” Sadly, not everyone shared those sentiments.
While many residents stood on their porches to listen and sent Corney letters of appreciation, not everyone enjoyed the 57-second concert, and the Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, council claimed they received complaints. However, as a member of the town council, Corney was pretty surprised when it was brought to his attention that his tribute had become an issue.
“I take 57 seconds out of each day to show our community and our country that we stand behind the men and women of this country and what they do on a day-to-day basis, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, that’s what this is for,” he said, Fox43 reports.
But, apparently, complaints were lodged, claiming that the tribute was an annoyance, and the town council decided to vote on the issue, according to PennLive. Recovering from surgery, Corney was absent from that meeting, and the rest of the council voted unanimously to restrict his playing of Taps to Sundays and holidays only in accordance with a nuisance ordinance.
Corney was not very pleased that the matter was voted on without him present, saying the vote was on the official agenda but hadn’t been emailed out ahead of time, and the council members knew he wouldn’t be there. However, council members have disputed that claim, saying they weren’t aware he’d be missing the meeting, according to York Daily Record.
“I’m willing to compromise and make things work, but don’t give me a different set of standards,” Corney said. He pointed out that church bells play every day in the borough after he received a certified letter that says he is in violation of the ordinance. The borough’s letter also notes that he could face a fine of up to $300 for each violation.
Some neighbors joined him in his displeasure with the decision, and those neighbors decided to take up the cause on Corney’s behalf. “I have served overseas to fight for their freedoms back here and I needed them to help me fight for something that I feel they have embraced and they want in their community,” Corney said.
An online petition to overturn the ruling was started, urging the council members to approve the continued playing of the military ode and noting that the hope is “to protect its playing from violation of any Glen Rock ordinance as an accepted patriotic town tradition.” The petition attracted serious interest as Americans across the country were left outraged to hear of the council’s decision.
After a year of back and forth over the contentious issue, retired Lieutenant Commander Joshua Corney lost the battle to play Taps at his property. Instead, a “compromise” was reached. Corney will continue to play Taps privately, but his public tribute from his home will be no more.
While most can understand that some neighbors would not appreciate being disrupted by another resident’s loud music, others say this is just not the same. It’s not loud, endless music that’s picked according to Corney’s taste. It’s an iconic military bugle call that every citizen should be able to appreciate — especially for a very short 57 seconds a day. Furthermore, it’s not a disruption in the late night or early morning hours. It’s played at dusk, a time when it should not interfere with the sleep of others.
Whether you agree with the nuisance ordinance being enforced against the Taps tribute or not, one thing is for certain. It is a rather ironic and a somewhat of a sad statement about our society when there are people who can’t tolerate a brief, pleasant disruption to give honor to those who fought for their very right to be able to voice such complaints.