Friday, March 24, 2006

Why I love bagpipes:

I heard once that people who like bagpipes must have a reason for their liking. For some, it's because they are Scottish. If you're not Scottish and still like them, then the answer is that you are insane. That may be true of me, but I have another reason for loving bagpipes.

On Tuesday, March 14, 2006 I sat down to write my U.S. History World War II report paper about my Grandpa Brien. You just can’t sum up a war experience in two pages, 12 font, double- spaced. I wrote this paper using a book called “Reminiscence” that my grandmother put together after recording my grandfather’s experiences as he told them to her. It’s not very long, but it’s very powerful, to me at least. I’m not one to get emotional usually, but I was crying before I even got to the part that told of him being beaten by the Nazis. I can’t express in words how awful it feels to find all this out about my grandfather now that he’s gone. Just reading about all the training he went through, the places he visited, and thinking about him being up in an airplane dropping bombs over Europe made me think, “Holy cow! That was grandpa Brien!?!”

While I was reading about the Death March he was on, I stumbled across the story within the story that I had heard many times before: Grandpa and the bagpipes. He came down with dysentary, and he had to get out and walk alongside the sick wagon just to keep warm. At a halt, he rolled over into a ditch and decided that was it, he was done. However, right as he gave up to die, he heard bagpipes coming up the road. The sound they made, and the sight of the British prisoners marching by in their kilts revived him and kept him going the rest of the way. Hence my love of what Robert Kirby calls, "an instrument of mass destruction."

I didn’t appreciate him as much as I should have when he was alive. I honestly remember thinking, “What a grouchy, old fart!” a few times when I was younger. You know how old people are. They don’t act like the used to. My dad and I joke sometimes that the first lesson my grandpa will learn in heaven is manners. I wish that I had known about what he did in the war and after it when I would visit him. I love him a lot, and appreciate him and what he did. Blast my stupidity, and taking-things-for-granted-ness. Here’s to you, grandpa!


Abby Norman said...

Awesome! I feel the same way about both grandpas, since they fought in WWII...(one joined the army and lied about his age!) I should have respected them more while they were alive...Man, oh man, did Grandpa Edge scare the living daylights out of me! I'll have to post some stories about him...and Grandpa Kayser, who was so clueless (like me), it was hillarious sometimes!

Melissa said...

Yesh, comments enabled.

Well then, I suppose my love for the bagpipes needs no introduction. I once wrote an entire college paper in defense of the instrument.
At university, sometimes late of an evening, you could catch the beautiful sounds of a lone bagpiper practicing his pipes at the belltower. I simply can't describe it justly.
Also, as we were walking down the street in Inverness, Scotland, this huge pipe band came marching through town on their way to the local tattoo (think state fair, sort of). Everyone stopped their work and came out onto the street to watch. It was so powerfully different from my late-night piper, but equally stunning.

I could say even more on the subject of grandfathers. Maybe the subject of a later post.

Michelle said...

I can't say that I've ever written an entire paper on this instument. But all I have to say is that it's just plain cool. The coolness almost oozes from it.