With St. Patrick’s Day approaching the lists of events and “Irish” celebrations seem endless, St. Baldrick’s, Fleadh, parades, parties, just to name a few. Yesterday I attended a fundraiser for a local fire department; it is held yearly and is always around St. Patrick’s Day. Firefighters from the Chicagoland area and their family and friends were in attendance. Everyone wore green, the band played Irish music, Guinness was served, it was a night of frivolity and great times. The children filled the dance floor and even convinced the band to play Taylor Swift, Let It Go, and The Wheels on the Bus. The adults reunited with old friends, toasted to the newly retired, or in memory of a fallen brother/sister, everyone was full of conversation and the atmosphere was cheerful.
Then the Organizer of the event asked all the firefighters (active, retired, future) to join him on the dance floor as he announced the Band of Brothers Pipes and Drums. The Band of Brothers is a Pipe/Drum Band that is formed of all Firefighters from the Chicagoland area and NW Indiana. When the drums started everyone in the banquet room silenced, conversations were halted, the children quieted and sat on the floor, and all movement came to a standstill. They marched out and performed a few songs, after America the Beautiful one of the firefighters said to remove your hats and raise a glass to all of the fallen firefighters. A version of Amazing Grace began to play, the original is reserved for funerals, and in that moment not a single eye was dry. Everyone clapped, cheered, hugged and then they played their final song as they retreated off the dance floor. The headlining band prepared for their next set while the raffle winners were announced, the laughter and celebration resumed, and the merriment carried on late into the night.
I have seen the Pipes and Drums perform many times and at many different functions but when they perform for their fellow brothers and sisters it is an amazing sight to see. What an honor it was to be in the presence of so many heroes who risk their lives to save ours. Many of them I call friends and one I have the honor to call my brother.