KELLY'S KORNER: Things you can learn from watching the movie credits

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I’m always the last one out of the movie theater. I stay to watch the credits.

Interesting things can be learned from movie credits: locations where the movie was filmed, for example, singers of songs in the movie, the names of lesser known actors and many other things.

Once I watched a cowboy movie about the American Old West only to see in the credits that it had been filmed in Italy.

Anyway, the other day I was at the movies to watch “Top Gun: Maverick,” starring Tom Cruise. It was a terrific movie.

As the credits rolled down, and people exited, I watched the names. There were five producers, including Tom Cruise, and five executive producers. I don’t know what a movie producer does, let alone an executive producer, but “Top Gun: Maverick” had a lot of them.  

In the music section, the credits included Kenny Loggins and Lady Gaga and, much to my surprise, a local guy.

The bugle call taps was played in the scene where Val Kilmer, who was Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky in the movie, was being buried. Playing taps at a military funeral is the proper way. 

And in the movie’s song credits taps was listed as was its composer, Daniel Butterfield, a Civil War general from Utica. The general and his bugler, Oliver Norton, composed the now famous bugle call. 

Ironically, I’ve written many columns about taps and General Butterfield over the years, including this past Memorial Day, a most appropriate time.

To see Butterfield’s name on the big screen at “Top Gun: Maverick” was a delightful shock.

And that wasn’t all. Right below Daniel Butterfield’s name was the name of Sgt. Jari Villanueva, a retired Air Force bugler. The credits rolled so quickly I couldn’t see why he was listed but I’m guessing it was he who played taps in the “Iceman” cemetery scene.

Villanueva has played taps so many times. If anyone has played taps more than him, I’d be shocked. Villanueva, also a bugler historian, has devoted his life to taps.

Many years ago Villanueva telephoned me. He was putting together an exhibit at the Arlington National Cemetery visitors center. Nowhere is taps played more often than at Arlington.

Villanueva was seeking to borrow Butterfield memorabilia owned by the Oneida County Historical Society, now the Oneida County History Center. 

I’m trying to remember what he borrowed. It might have been General Butterfield’s Medal of Honor, sword and silver mess kit.  

I later visited Arlington National Cemetery to see the exhibit. As promised, Villanueva gave credit to the Oneida County Historical Society for the loan.

As for this past Memorial Day, this is some of what I wrote about taps:

“In July of 1862, Union forces were camped at Harrison’s Landing on the James River in Virginia. General Butterfield summoned the brigade bugler, Oliver Norton, to his tent. Butterfield, who had never liked the “extinguish lights” bugle call which was then in use, whistled a new tune and asked Norton to play it. After changing it several times, Butterfield was pleased and ordered it played for his troops that night and thereafter. It wasn’t long before buglers from throughout the Union Army started playing the tune, which eventually became the official Army bugle call used to signal the end of the day literally and figuratively.  

“Butterfield died in 1901 and is buried at West Point, an honor, especially when you consider he did not attend the U.S. Military Academy, and if you didn’t graduate West Point, you couldn’t be buried at West Point. Special permission, however, was granted in Butterfield’s case.” 

Had it not been for my habit of staying for the credits, I wouldn’t have found an excuse to write again about Gen. Daniel Butterfield, a Civil War hero. 

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