NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – At every funeral and memorial service for the 343 New York City firefighters killed on 9/11, there has been one constant – the FDNY’s Emerald Society Pipes and Drums.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story
“To be able to play at my own father’s funeral, play the bagpipes, something he loved so much, surrounded by so many guys that knew the grief I was feeling, it made it very special and it was an honor for me,” said firefighter Patrick Dowdell.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Dowdell, then an 18-year-old college freshman, helped fill the void when he joined the pipe band.
“You feel a lot of pride,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.
His fire lieutenant father Kevin had been killed on 9/11.
His younger brother, James, is now a firefighter and is also with the band.
“The role of the band at a funeral is to put the brother to rest with dignity and honor,” James said.
“We try and take care of the families, give them a little solace,” founding member Edward McLoughlin said.
He’s now 84 and has personally played at more 150 services.
“It was sorrowful, but you had to do it,” he said.
Edward Geraghty, now 71, was, at one point, playing at three or four funeral a day.
“Sometimes you weren’t sure where you were,” he said. “It was emotional.”