God for the bagpipers.” Those six words of gratitude were whispered repeatedly
as hundreds of pipers and drummers fell out after a memorial ceremony for
public safety officers killed by the terrorist attacks of 2001. This phrase is heard more often today as
pipers and drummers continue comfort, honor and inspire others with their
origins of the pipes trace back to around 1000 BC. Over the centuries, the
bagpipes became common features of both Scottish and Irish cultures while
becoming venerable sources of communication, entertainment and mourning. When
British imperial power ruled most of the world, bagpipers marched along with
her military regiments throughout the globe. That grand tradition continues
police pipers tend to favor the Great Highland Bagpipes and are usually
accompanied by drummers playing bass, side or tenor drums. Drum Majors lead the
bands along the avenue while Pipe Majors coordinate the music and Pipe
Sergeants attend to the marching. Units
proudly differentiate themselves by means of special uniforms, headgear, kilt
patterns (tartans), plaids and arm patches. As self-supporting entities, most
police pipe bands exist only to honor fallen comrades while staying true to the
honorable heritage of their Gaelic ancestors.
and Scottish immigrants brought the pipes to this country during the 19th
century. Around 1960, members of the New York Police Emerald Society took the
initial step to blend Celtic bagpipe culture into American law enforcement. Today
more than 100 law enforcement bagpipe bands exist throughout the country
including in Albany, Atlanta,
Las Vegas, San Diego
to Craig Floyd, Executive Director of the National Law Enforcement Officers
Memorial in Washington, D.C., police bagpipe bands now play an important role
in various aspects of the annual law enforcement memorial services annually each
May in the national capitol. The coupling of bagpipers and Police Week was also
supported by the leadership of the National Conference of Law EnforcementEmerald Societies (NCLEES) in Washington, D.C.
and the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS). Few
community policing programs have a bigger positive impact on the locals than a
police bagpipe and drum band. Pipers and drummers make excellent agency ambassadors
as they travel around the country to perform, especially when they are
supporting other law enforcement agencies in time of need. This type of
professional unity reflects an extremely important and positive aspect of the
“thin blue line” concept.
your department is in need of a police bagpiper to honor a fallen officer,
contact the NCLEES. Staffers will attempt to find a local bagpipe unit to
assist with the funeral or procession.
mourners have been comforted by wailing bagpipes accompanied by the soft slow
beats of a bass drum as someone they deeply loved is honored and memorialized
by these wonderful men and women. So the next time you see them perform, please
don’t forget to say “Thank God for the bagpipers.”
Chief J.T. McBride (ret) is a bagpiper
with the Cleveland Police Pipes and Drums and a Founding Father of the Greater
Cleveland Police Emerald Society. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tom Wetzel
Special piece Chief McBride. The sounds of bagpipes immediately evoke a variety of powerful emotions. God speaks to us through music.
Submitted May 6 at 9:18 PM
The"heavenly sounds"of the bagpipers are heard across the nation as
our fallen officers are honored. What a great service the pipers provide
to the law enforcement community. Thanks to all of them for their service!!!
Thanks to Chief McBride (ret) for the GREAT article and the photo that accompanied the article. THANK GOD FOR THE BAGPIPERS!!!!!!!!
Submitted Apr 30 at 9:51 PM
Bagpipes produce a very special and unique sound that evoke deep emotions in everyone. I want to say thank you to everyone who takes the time and effort to learn this complex instrument. Thank God for the Bagpipers.
Submitted Apr 30 at 7:51 PM