Skip to comments.Military funeral bagpipers: recruiting the next generation
Posted on 08/21/2005 8:31:16 AM PDT by sionnsar
FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio - George Roudebush, a World War II Battle of the Bulge veteran, feels the heart strings tugging when a bagpipe plays at a military funeral, and he's done his part to recruit the next generation of pipers.
Roudebush, 80, of Chardon, a bagpiper for 32 years, has convinced his 12-year-old grandson to take up the pipes.
A bagpipe at a military funeral "fits so nicely with taps," Roudebush said while taking a break from his Red Hackle Pipes and Drums band practice in a veterans hall in suburban Cleveland. "The pipes have a place for us in memorial functions."
Military funerals for U.S. casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq - particularly the recent two-week series of services for Marines from an Ohio-based battalion - have highlighted the role of bagpipes and a unique sound that, for many, invokes just the right solemn tone.
The last of the scheduled funerals of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines killed in two attacks in early August was held Saturday in suburban Cincinnati for Marine Sgt. David Kreuter, 26, who was posthumously promoted from corporal.
Don Barner, 54, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam and assistant Lake County prosecutor, took up the pipes in 1989 after hearing them at a police officer's funeral and gets inspired when he occasionally plays at military funerals.
"I look at it as an honor to give tribute to guys I served alongside," Barner said as fellow band members practiced fan favorites including the "Marine Corps Hymn" and "Amazing Grace."
Donald B. Willis, 60, of Lyndhurst, an undertaker and 20-year bagpiper, said the unique sound makes the bagpipes fit into a teary-eyed funeral for a fallen service member.
"It's just marvelous sounds that bring out the emotion and it's a very respective sound," said Willis, who is about to publish a sequel to a first novel with a bagpipe theme.
"If you're happy, it will bring it out. If you're sad, it will bring out tears," he said.
Recruiting new pipers like Roudebush's grandson can involve family connections, sometimes without regard to military tradition or lump-in-the-throat funeral duty. Other factors include a fascination with the sound and an interest in trying something different.
"I thought it would be nice to try," said Kirby Weldon, 16, of Litchfield, who took up the bagpipes two years ago based on his mother's love for the pipes and a friend's involvement.
The Red Hackle band directed by Scottish-born Sandy Hain, 76, has fared well attracting newcomers. It's a mix of about 50 members including young, middle-aged and old.
Band member Nate Wiles, 14, of North Olmsted, said his family's Scottish-American roots and a cousin who plays nurtured his interest in the pipes.
Wiles said his involvement in school cross-country, track and wrestling teams helps his stamina for an instrument that requires a lot of lung power.
"You have to blow a lot of air into the bag. It keeps going out," he said.
And what do his North Olmsted High School classmates make of the bagpipes? "It's popular with the ladies," Wiles said.
Stephen Holter, 39, of Youngstown, played the pipes at the Corpus Christi, Texas, funeral of a nephew, Marine Cpl. Paul C. Holter III, 21, who died Jan. 14 in a non-combat incident at Camp Ramadi, Iraq.
"There is head-turning (attention) just because people don't see it very often," said Holter, who has gently encouraged his 3-year-old son's interest in bagpipes.
"He likes bagpipe music. He'll actually ask for it - CDs - in the car," Holter said. "I don't want to push him into it, but I want to provide him with the opportunity if he wants."
ON THE NET
Red Hackle band: http://www.redhacklepipeband.com
Eastern U.S. Pipe Band Association: http://www.euspba.org
A Warm Scots ping!Thanks for the thread sionnsar....and please add me to your list. Thanks!!
My 11-yr-old, who's determined to join the Navy, is learning to play bagpipes. So keep yer pants on! :)
One less critic of your playing at a funeral.
If hearing Amazing Grace on pipes as a flag-draped coffin leaves the church doesn't bring a tear to your eye, you're probably the one in the coffin.
Molly, thanks for the ping!
I feel you pain, I had a 12 year old that tried desperately to play the drums.
If your in houston send your kids to this school...
Best piping school in North America...
A house close to me recently sold to a young couple, and the guy plays bagpipes. I've been refinishing the wood floors in my house and stepped out to the porch for fresh air yesterday and heard Amazing Grace and Brave Scotland.
Put me on the ping list--love the bagpipes.
Welllll....my daughter would probably disagree with you. They have an all boys pipeband. Our daughter played with RMM out of Vancouver. They invited her to play with them and when they met St. Thomas at World's in Scotland...let's just say that the United States kids got beat. Pretty bad when a US girl has to go outside the country to play with a World quality pipeband at World's. That was fun for her, but I have to admit that Mike Cusack is an awesome teacher. Our daughter had him a few times at bagpipe camps over the years.
So...have you gotten to the point where it sounds as if a whole herd of Canadian Geese are flying through your livingroom? LOL!!! Our daughter would practice in the livingroom with us sitting right there. We would hold the phone on our laps so that we could hear it vibrate--you sure couldn't hear it ring!
And if someone called... you were going to try to talk with them...? *\;-)
You're all on the list now. Fàilte (Welcome)!
They can't win the worlds ever year... But three wins is pretty good...
If Jane is going to mention her Scots names, I will as well...Here a few: McRae, Stark, Hutchison, Urquhart. This is why when I hear bagpipes, the tears start to flow....
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