If you hear outdoors, the national anthem being played with a trumpet, it’s likely that you are listening to a performance by Rodney Sapyta.
The Plant City resident plays patriotic songs in random areas – including those outside of town.
It was a spiritual awakening that inspired him to pick up the trumpet and amplify its sound.
“I was saved four years ago by the grace of God,” Sapyta said. “I opened up the Bible and I was reading, and I kept seeing ‘the sound of the trumpet.’”
It was through those passages, that he felt God was calling him to use the musical instrument to spread love to others.
Seeing how political views have caused a rift throughout the country, Sapyta decided to perform the trumpet in public places as a way of bringing Americans together.
“There’s so much division and so many people that want to divide all of us,” he said. “I’m against all of that. We’re all united. That’s why this is the United States of America.”
He also noted that his father was of Polish descent and his mother was of German descent, yet they were able to look past their cultural differences and find commonalities among one another.
He initially began practicing the trumpet as a student at Monroe Middle School, in Tampa, but he eventually lost interest in playing.
His father served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and was later assigned to the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
His profound love for his country was inspired by his father’s career, he said, adding that, “I’m a civilian with a patriotic heart.”
Also, his parents named him after one of his father’s comrades who left an impression on him.
However, Sapyta did not hear his father speak about fighting in the Vietnam War, as it was a traumatic experience.
His older brother also served in the military.
He spent 40 years working for delivery companies such as UPS. Now retired, he no longer distributes packages in a service truck, but patriotic melodies in a military-style truck. Dressed in military fatigue and accompanied by his trumpet, Sapyta drives around in his M35 “Deuce in a Half” truck – a tribute to his father. His truck has become a signature part of his performance.
He has plans to purchase a later model in honor of his brother who flew a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III when he served.
He has played outside of Plant City’s train depot, city hall, Fred’s Market, and the Florida Strawberry Festival.
He has also performed at one of the Marriott hotels, a veterans’ site in St. Petersburg, a cemetery in Sarasota, and a veterans’ golf course in Leesburg, and has been invited to Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day events. He wants to play for the Tampa Bay Rays and other sports teams someday.
Sometimes he can be found performing at the least expected places on an ordinary day.
“I’ll stop in front of a Wal-Mart or a Publix because they’ve got a flag standing up in the front…and I’ll play that for whoever is in the parking lot,” Sapyta said. “There’s been quite a few people that have appreciated it.”
In the front yard of his home, he has numerous flags, including the American flag, and those recognizing first responders and military officers for their unwavering service to the country.
They’re there to “represent and show respect to everyone that’s paved the way for our way of life,” he said. He also mentioned the importance of educating the youth about the men and women who put their lives on the line, so they can have a prospering future.
He’s now helping to care for his mother, but still tries to find time to go out and continue his calling and unite his fellow citizens with music.
“I’m going to continue doing what I do and that’s trying to bring joy and happiness to people and try and show we’re all united,” Sapyta said. “That’s my main thing. We’re all in this together.”