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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Funeral Questions
    We attended the funeral, today, of my wife's uncle who was retired from the Columbus, OH police department and a Marine Corps veteran. He had a very nice service with the police department escort and their services and the Marine Honor Guards. The Marines had a man play the bagpipes at the cemetary. He stood about 50 feet from the grave site and played, then played Amazing Grace as he walked away, which didn't leave a dry eye in those who attended.

    Does anyone know the significance of the bagpiper standing off by himself and why he walks away while playing? In searching for this, I read that it's customary but can't seem to find an explanation of what this means. Does it symbolize the deceased departing this world? Does it even signify anything at all?
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  2. #2
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    I don't know the origin of the tradition but I have been around pipers both indoors and outdoors. (XH is from Scotland.)

    The bagpipe is a very loud instrument and standing in close proximity to a piper for a prolonged period of time can be very uncomfortable. Also when standing near the instrument you do hear a good bit of wheezing as it inflates and deflates. It might be for purely aesthetic reasons that the piper stands apart from the mourners.

    My condolences on your loss.

  3. #3
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Not sure of the origin, but if you look at the obituary about 2/3 of the way down in this thread, you'll find:

    At funerals, he would usually play "Amazing Grace" as he walked away from the grave site, explaining to mourners that he was piping the departed soul to heaven. Then Mr. McCruden would begin playing a Celtic jig or reel -- as a sign that the soul had the opportunity to reach its final destination.
    Hope this helps. Sorry for your loss.

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  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Thanks Rhea. I never heard the bagpipes up close so that could well be why he stood off from the group.
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  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Thanks John, that makes sense as the feeling we had was very similar in that if felt like the departed was on his way to Heaven as the bagpiper walked away.
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  6. #6
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    Sounds like that was a powerful scene. It sounds like your uncle in-law left behind lots of great memories and got a fitting sendoff. Sorry to hear he's gone.


  7. #7
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Bagpipes are incredibly loud, which I'm sure is most of it. I remember fly fishing the Penobscot River in Bangor, Maine, and every night for an hour or so before sundown, the social club across the river would practice bagpipes.

    Thankfully, they were pretty good.

    It was a wide, powerful river, and that music came across the water like I was listening to a Walkman.

    I have fond memories of it, as I hope you both have fond memories of her uncle.

    God Bless.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the help and condolences.
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  9. #9
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    Hi Greg, I can't offer any help on the bagpiper, I just wanted to send my condolences.

    p.s Nice meeting you last weekend

    Michael

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Thanks Michael. It was pleasure meeting you, glad to see you posting again.
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  11. #11
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    Yes, bagpipes are very loud. They were often used in battle, so loudness was a virtue. They are a very important part of Celtic and Scottish identity, partly because of their history, but I suspect partly because it also annoys the English.

    Wikipedia has an interesting insight (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagpipes):

    In the modern era the use of bagpipes has become a common tradition for military funerals and memorials in the anglophone world, and they are often used at the funerals of high-ranking civilian public officials as well. Weddings, dances, and parties, are also venues for piping, in fact any social event, that can be given a lift by the addition of this unique instrumental music
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