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What the Madison Fire Department Pipe Brigade’s annual Memorial Day performance means

Pipe Brigade
Pipe Brigade

REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The timeless tradition of bagpipers at memorials can't be stopped by a pandemic.

On Monday, the Madison Fire Department's Pipe Brigade heeded the call as they do every year.

"We're all members of the fire department, but we're all volunteers in this pipe band. Our pipe band is just associated because we're all fire department members," said vice president of the band, Robert Kohler.

Kohler said pipe bands have been a fire department tradition for hundreds of years going back to the original firefighters in the United States who were of Scottish and Irish descent.

For the past 12 years, the Madison Fire Department's Pipe Brigade has been playing for the community as a way to serve.

"There's many people that have honorably served and given so much to the community that we'd like to come back and help their family members honor them," Kohler said.

For Navy veteran Jim Hobbs, the music brings back a special memory.

"One of my home ports was Holy Loch, Scotland, and that gave me an inspiration and a desire to witness the pipes and drums when I'm able to see them. In Rexburg they have a spectacular pipes and drum group," Hobbs said.

On this Memorial Day, the band traveled throughout 5 cemeteries in Madison County, playing in front of a crowd of around 60 people in each.

"It's fun to come in and help the neighborhood the people of this community, honor their fallen family members," said president of the band, Stan Crittenden.

Learning to play the pipes takes around a year and much practice after that. A process all too familiar for 17-year-old Carter Miskin who is currently learning.

Miskin is motivated to play alongside his dad and the other pipe band members by his Scottish roots. "When people hear bag pipes, I think it's associated with a feeling of family, especially when it's associated with people that have passed on," Miskin said.

Many of the members in the Madison Fire Department’s Pipe Brigade traveled to Scotland to hear the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo perform.

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Jilliana Colina

Jilliana is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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