Our mission is to provide a distinguished tribute
FOR OUR FALLEN comrades – and to be of service
to the family, friends and co-workers of public safety employees
of Raleigh, Wake County and all those who serve and protect
in the State of North Carolina.
We desire to strengthen relations between the protective services
and the public and to preserve cultural heritage
and enrich our community by providing traditional
Bagpipe and Drum music.
Today, the sound of the pipes together with the slow beat of the drums have come to be a distinguishing feature of a fallen hero’s funeral. FOR OUR FALLEN is everything we stand for.
The rank and file of our organization are from numerous public safety agencies in the RDU region – alongside active and retired members of the United State Military. In addition to those public safety and military members we are proud to be one of a handful of public safety bands which allow family members and friends to join our ranks. We take great pride in all we have accomplished and realize there is always a higher level of excellence to be won. We strive to be humble and grateful for our members, our collective talents and hard work, and the opportunities we have to perform and grow.
A MESSAGE FROM THE MANAGER
Joe Brady, Founding Member
The vocation of being a Police Officer, Firefighter or Paramedic can be a thankless one. I write this about a group which originated out of the belief we need to better recognize and thank the individuals who risk their lives on a daily basis for the safety of the community. Bagpipes have become a tradition for honoring our fallen comrades throughout the country. Historically, bagpipes have been played at fire department funerals in the United States for over 150 years. Pipe Bands representing both fire and police departments in cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago often have more than 75 uniformed members and are traditionally known as Emerald Societies after Ireland - the Emerald Isle.
I played the bagpipes off and on since I was 9; first learning under the watchful eye of Dave McKee, Sr. of the Stockyard Kilty band. In 1998 I became part of the tradition playing with the Bagpipes and Drums of the Emerald Society, Chicago Police Department; a group tasked with playing at the honors funerals of over 100 police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
My wife and I made Johnston County, North Carolina our home in 2005. We quickly discovered the only band serving public safety officers was the Charlotte Fire Department Pipe Band which consists only of active, sworn firefighters of the City of Charlotte and we knew there was a need for a band closer to the capital county to serve public safety heroes. Later that year, under the partnership of the Greater Raleigh Emerald Society and then Chief of Clayton Police Gary Ragland, the Carolina Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society was born. Its members included Chief Ragland, his wife Kathy, my wife Chris, Detective Sergeant Gerry Smith, Officer Brian Temple, Detective Jason Barnes and Lt. Jason Hutchins. Our first performance as a small band was during the 2006 Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade leading the Greater Raleigh Emerald Society - after which the notion of a broader Public Safety band took on even stronger interest.
In May of 2006, a chance meeting at the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial between Tony Crawford of Wake EMS and I set the stage for the formation of a new band – The Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums. I want to explain the name “Wake and District”… Much of what we do as band is patterned after the Scottish Regiment - the Black Watch -who were the first Public Safety pipe band formed over 200 years ago. In Scotland when counties wanted to start a pipe band and did not have enough members to field their own corps they reached out to surrounding collar counties or districts to support their mission. Our band is based out of and practices in Wake County. We rely on surrounding districts to draw members from and we support the men and women who serve as public safety offices in Durham County, Orange County Wake County, Johnston County, Nash County and others.
Wake & District came together with me serving as the Pipe Major and Instructor, Tony Crawford serving as the business manager, and Skip Kirkwood as the Drum Major and organizational sponsor along with a handful of police officers, firefighters, paramedics, United States soldiers and some wonderful families and friends. We established some firm relationships in the public safety community and created a few new traditions along the way. Today our numbers total more than 50 musicians half of which are active or retired public safety officers or members of the armed services.
The band has earned the respect of the Public Safety Community and the greater Pipe & Drum Community and I am grateful to all the good band members, their families and all of our friends who have supported us along the way. It has not been an easy journey, but we are doing the right things for the right reasons and endeavor to represent everything good and noble about public safety and pipe band life.
FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE.
Wake & District remains focused on future achievement, despite all of our past accomplishments. We take great pride in all our endeavors and realize there is always a higher level of excellence to be won. We strive to be humble and grateful for our members, our collective talents and hard work, and the opportunities we have to perform and grow. Our members share strong bonds beyond the competition circle, fostering relationships with other members of the team; allowing us to flourish as an organization and allows us to continue to move forward.
Our organization fields two competition groups – each with different levels of ability. While individual band members compete in all levels, the band competes in Grade 3 and Grade 4 at events sanctioned by the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association.
Our Grade 4 is under the leadership of Pipe Major Paul Landers and lead tip Fisher Reese. Our Grade 3 program is under the direction of Pipe Major Ken McKeveny – a piping professional and EUSPBA judge — alongside Pipe Sergeant Seth Wells and lead tipper Kelsey Barry.
Band members continue to work together to accomplish common goals, both on the field and off. While we focus on our goals in competition, we recognize our duty within the community to be in service and perpetuate the art form. Our teaching programs are thriving, and we continually focus on cultivating new players as a means of keeping the art form alive. We welcome individuals who already play pipes or drums and are interested in joining a success-driven group of like-minded musicians.