Veteran’s Indian Rocks Beach solos at sunset remind that freedom is not free

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Each night as the sun sets, a mournfully melancholy, beautifully done version of taps graces the shore line at Indian Rocks Beach. 

Army veteran Ken Deka’s cue to play his bugle is the sun descending into the horizon.

“I do it for all the guys who have paid the ultimate price,” said Deka.

The sunset serenades are drawing crowds.

“We come down here several times a week,” explained Indian Rocks Beach resident Joye Swisher. “And really just enjoy listening to taps.”

“I go out there every night and people seem to love it and I enjoy doing it, and to watch it with the sunset is just beautiful,” added Deka.

“People stop talking. They stop laughing. They stop running back and forth. Everybody gets very still,” explained beachgoer Linda Hansen.

Some, like Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Tom Zydron, stand in silence and salute.

“It’s very patriotic, you know, it means a lot to veterans,” said Zydron.

Ken Deka moved to the Tampa Bay area from South Bend, Indiana about three years ago.

“Went out to watch the sunset and as I watched it, I thought, ‘boy wouldn’t that be nice to hear taps,'” he said.

According to Deka, his brother has a lot to do with why he does what he does.

“He died about five years ago. We’re both Vietnam veterans. We both loved to hear taps,” stated Deka.

A few years ago, he pulled out his bugle. He started playing taps at sunset on the far end of the beach.

“The more I played, the more people started coming out and pretty soon, I couldn’t find a parking space,” explained Deka.

People seem to love his sunset solo serenades. The more they love them, the more Ken Deka says he loves coming out to play.

“There’s something about being there and hearing the sound and feeling it that is so much different. It feels good to hear it,” added Deka. “And in my own little way, I’m trying to make people realize that freedom isn’t free.”

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