By Ed Jacques, LEJ Editor
Every Wednesday night a group gathers at the American Legion Hall in Berkley to practice for something they all pray they will never have to do again. The group is the Metro Detroit Police Fire Pipes and Drums (MDPFPD), Michigan’s only (and one of the few in the nation) pipe bands comprised exclusively of police officers and firefighters. Their mission is to provide traditional funeral music for police officers and firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The band provides this service, without cost, anywhere in the state upon the request of the officer’s agency and/or family. The band was formed as a result of the murder of Hazel Park Police Officer Jessica Nagle-Wilson in 2002. Up until that time if a pipe band was needed for a line of duty death agencies had to look outside the state of Michigan, to Chicago, Cleveland or Windsor, CA. Since the bands in- ception, it has been called upon over 40 times to honor their brothers and sisters who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The MDPFPD also performs at memorial services throughout the state, including the annual 9/11 ser- vice at the Michigan Fallen Heroes Memorial in Pontiac and the Blue Mass in Lansing. MDPFPD has also represented Michigan police of- ficers at Police Week in Washington DC and Michigan fire fighters at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Em- mitsburg, MD. Band members are all volunteers, and must be either active or retired law enforcement officers (local, county, state or federal) or firefighters (full time, paid on call or volunteer). Pipers supply their own instruments, while the MDPFPD supplies the snare, tenor and bass drums. MDP- FPD supplies all uniforms, at a cost of approximately $2,500 per set. The MDPFPD relies exclusively on donations, and has a 501c(3) tax status as a non-profit organization. The Band wears a traditional pipe band uniform, which includes a kilt. The tartan was designed specifically for the band’s kilt and it is registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans. The colors are symbolic; red for fire- fighters, blue for police officers, black for mourning and white for hope and life. The MDPFPD is always looking for new members, from accomplished musicians to those who wish to learn. Instruction on both bagpipes and drums is provided by both band members and the civilian instructors. All that is asked of any member is a commitment to the mission of the Metro De- troit Police Fire Pipes and Drums…”We Honor Our Brothers and Sisters”.