Q:

Where did the tradition of playing bagpipes at the funerals of police officers and firefighters originate?

A:

Quick Answer

In the 1800s, Irish immigrants met with widespread discrimination, and only the least desirable jobs were available to them: firefighting and policing. In Ireland, bagpipes were typical at all funerals.

Continue Reading
Where did the tradition of playing bagpipes at the funerals of police officers and firefighters originate?
Credit: PETER MUHLY AFP Getty Images

Full Answer

The sad sound from the pipes brought dignity to solemn occasions and allowed expression-hardened public servants an opportunity to display grief for fallen friends in a perfectly acceptable way. The mournful sounds may also have served as a reminder to those who discriminated against them that it was the Irish protecting them. It was not unusual for several firefighters to die in one incident. The tribute was so moving, families of non-immigrants began to request bagpipes at funerals.

Traditional bagpipe melodies at firefighter and police funerals include "Flowers of the Forest" and "Lament for Children." "Amazing Grace" is popular, but not considered traditional. In the 1970s, a group of Scots Guards toured America and adapted the hymn to bagpipes.

The Emerald Society bagpipe troupes are associated with Boston, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia and serve as pipers at firefighter and police funerals, no matter the ethnicity. The bands consist of 60 members wearing traditional kilt and tunic, Scottish clan tartan kilts, Irish single-color kilt or simple Irish uniforms. The tradition became universal.

Learn more about Holidays & Celebrations

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are some comforting Bible verses that are appropriate for funerals?

    A:

    The book of Psalms offers comforting Bible verses that are appropriate for funerals, including Psalm chapter 23 and Psalm 34:18. Other verses that offer comfort are Romans 8:31 and 2Corinthians 1:3-4.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What are some good Bible verses for funerals?

    A:

    Some good Bible verses for funerals include Matthew 5:4, Psalms 119:50, Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 and Philippians 1:21-23. With Matthew stating that those who mourn shall be comforted, and the verses in Psalms stating that in affliction, the promise of God gives life, all of these verses are offerings of comfort. For example, the Ecclesiastes verse speaks to the idea that there is a time and season for everything, including a time to be born and a time to die.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    Do people play music at funerals?

    A:

    Many next of kin choose to play music at funerals, and a deceased person may leave instructions regarding music to play at the funeral. Many of the most popular funeral songs are classical pieces or hymns, but mourners may also choose to play popular music and pop standards.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What are some good songs to play at funerals?

    A:

    There are a wide number of songs to choose from for funerals, including hymns such as "Amazing Grace" and "How Great Thou Art," or meaningful contemporary songs, such as "Dance With My Father Again" by Luther Vandross and "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan, according to NextGenMemorials.com and HeavenSentMusic.com. Most of these songs are ones that evokes a feeling of comfort or that reminds funeral-goers of the person who passed.

    Full Answer >

Explore