Crystal Lake man honors veterans with nightly taps tribute

From Memorial Day to Veterans Day, Jim Heisler plays the taps each night at sunset

Monday, November 9, 2020
Crystal Lake man honors veterans with nightly taps tribute
Each night at sunset, Jim Heisler plays taps in his front yard in honor of our nation's veterans. What he didn't realize was the impact it would also have on his neighbors.

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- A longtime downtown Crystal Lake shoe store owner has been honoring veterans each night from his yard by playing taps.

"I have done it every day, every sunset since Memorial Day evening," said Jim Heisler, the owner of Heisler's Bootery.

"He has played in all kinds of weather, nothing has stopped him. He hasn't missed a night," said Heisler's wife Rebecca.

The moving tribute is his way of paying respect to our nation's veterans.

"He was afraid that the neighbors would be offended, too much noise or something like that," Rebecca said.

However, it turns out that Heisler's nightly gesture in his yard was just what his neighbors needed.

Richard Kerman and his wife, Beverly, have walked over all but a few times for the sunset performance.

"I am a veteran. Taps have always been one of my favorite things," Richard said. "It's something that's been very important in my life and it makes me feel good."

"It just makes the day better, and especially with COVID-19 and the election, we always knew we would have this moment peace for the day," Beverly added.

"I have had people call me, write me notes and letters that I don't even know," Heisler said.

Rebecca is always by his side, counting down the time until sunset.

"In this turbulent times that we have, it is really nice to spread some positivity and good feelings," she said. "I can't keep from being choked up because, typically, every night I am choked up while he is playing. It is such a small thing but it makes such a statement."

"It is not just so many notes. It has a meaning," Heisler said.

Heisler will be out with his trumpet at sundown through Veteran's Day. It's going to be an emotional final night for the Heislers and their neighbors.

"We will miss it. Maybe he will do it again next year," Beverly said.