Undeterred by Rain, Bagpipers Honor Those who Have Fallen

Bagpipers are hearty souls. For proof of that, one need look no further than this evening’s 16th Annual Emerald Society & Pipeband March and Service at the Memorial.

After processing six blocks up E Street, NW, and into the Memorial, pipebands from across the country proudly formed around the Center Medallion … only to have the skies open with a burst of rain. But that was only a temporary delay in what has become one of the most colorful and boisterous events of National Police Week.

Bagpipes trace their toots to the Middle East several centuries before the birth of Christ. But it was in Ireland and Scotland that the instrument became popular, used to signal a death and escort the fallen to the final resting place. Their strong association with law enforcement in the United States developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Irish-Americans stepped forward and began to fill the growing ranks of our law enforcement agencies. One of the enduring traditions they brought with them was bagpipe music.

On Thursday at the Memorial, through music and fellowship, hundreds remembered all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, in particular our brothers and sisters of Gaelic descent. And as the ceremony was coming to an end, the skies darkened and an even harder, driving rain pelted the Memorial. But the pipebands and their honor guard escorts ceremoniously filed out of the Memorial as they came in — loud and proud and determined to play and march to the very end, paying special honor to the fallen as only they can.

Bagpipers are hearty — and honorable — souls indeed.