NewsPositively Milwaukee


Local bagpipe band honors fallen police officers and firefighters

Posted at 10:35 AM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 11:35:32-04

It's a noble sound of honor, and the Great Highland bagpipes have been around for hundreds of years. That unique sound is known all over the world.

"It takes quite a bit of time to practice and stay good at it," says Kevin Lynch, president of the Greater Milwaukee Police and Fire Pipes and Drums.

Kevin and his band use that skill for an important purpose.

"The Great Highland bagpipe has been a traditional instrument for honoring law enforcement, firefighters, and the military."

Often that includes parades and festivals.

"We stay busy most of the year," Lynch says.

In Washington, D.C., pipers play at midnight during National Police Week at the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

"Last year, of course, the pandemic stopped everything," says Gary Byers, one of the GMPFPD band members.

So Gary and the rest of the band decided to do something to keep the tradition alive right here in the Milwaukee area.

"Last year, we sent pipers, some that didn't even belong to our band, but wanted to honor the fallen, because we always said that we would never forget them," Gary says.

The band played at 17 police departments across the area over the course of a week. Kevin and Gary -- both former officers themselves -- say that commitment comes from a deep-seated respect for law enforcement.

"We will put off any other engagements that we have to make sure that we're able and available to honor the fallen," Byers says. "So that they know the sacrifices that the police officers have made and that they are honored and never will be forgotten."

If you'd like to learn the bagpipes but are worried you never could, Gary and Kevin say they had humble beginnings themselves. Both got lessons in the basement of a local bar for just a $5 donation and a pint of Guinness.

If you'd like to learn, visit this link and the band will help you find a tutor.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip