Inspiration. It can come from the simplest of imaginings, or it can be almost unattainable at times. In a word, this defines our band during the past year. We have sought it out in every possible way. From the written words of well known speakers, to the encouraging words of others. We were honored by visits and in-house workshops by influential players and friends from across the globe. We looked for inspiration in everything we did this past year, as it was a year of constant change.
We have spent the last year focused intently on what and who we are. It has been a time of reformation, as the band has breathed and groaned through the growing pains and the changes necessary for continued development. It has been a time of reaffirmation of our mission and our ideals, to instill in our newer members an understanding of just what it is we strive to do. This must be understood above all else…For Our Fallen is everything we stand for.
As we have done since our humble beginnings, we continued to honor our local communities and our public safety community whenever called upon. We reached out to share our heritage through local events, from kilt runs to Christmas tree lightings and everything in between. We supported higher learning, through participating in graduation ceremonies for Wake Technical Community College and Campbell University. Once again, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with our friends in North Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, South Carolina.
The band was honored to be selected as a participant in the 2016 Virginia International Tattoo, a week long display of military music and the largest of its kind in the United States. Wake and District performed alongside 1500 performers from Ireland, Jordan and all corners of the globe. With several days in hotel rooms and many exhaustive hours of practice, this was a massive commitment that stretched our participating members to their limits. It was an effort that all involved will agree was absolutely worth it, as they made new and lasting friendships with like-minded musicians from around the world, made possible by the international language of music.
Our commitment to our public safety family was honored in 2016, as we added, in our own small way, to graduations, promotion ceremonies and academies for agencies including the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Wake County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Raleigh Police and Fire Departments.
As in years past, we continued to honor our fallen in memorial services around the country, including the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial at Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Our commitment to music extends into the realm of competition, as we believe it makes us stronger performers and allows us to further sharpen our playing abilities for the times when we must honor our mission to our public safety brothers and sisters. Competitions across the southeastern U.S. provided the band with motivation and inspiration to strive for more. In 2016, the band also gave back to the piping community, by sponsoring a competition right here in Raleigh. The Inaugural Mike Murphy Memorial Indoor Pipe Band Competition was an officially sanctioned event, held on the grounds of Ravenscroft School, attracting bands from across the southeast with the lure of an air conditioned indoor pipe band contest in the blistering heat of July. It was a great time and well represented, with many favorable comments from participants and attendees. We look forward to sponsoring the next offering of this event in 2017.
During 2016, we found ourselves homeless, in a way, as the Irish pub known as Tir na nOg closed its doors. Having been our “home” from the beginning, we became a wayward pipe band, being welcomed into pubs and taverns across the area throughout the year. Our band mother, Annie Nice, however, refused to give up on the idea of a home for the Triangle’s Irish community. Through her hard work and dedication, Tir na nOg was reborn on East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh, and a welcome sight it was. Best of all, Wake & District was included from the start, with our influence scattered throughout the pub. We are sincerely thankful to Annie and our pub family for creating a new home that includes us.
One of the hallmarks of successful organizations is their ability to remain dynamic. Their leaders recognize that change becomes necessary to avoid stagnation and to stimulate creativity. The band has been no different, as some changes in leadership have taken place this past year. The membership has looked on somewhat tentatively as our “founding fathers” have taken a step back; a well deserved rest after years of shaping and building this group. At the same time, we are hopeful, as new leaders emerge and bring their influences to the group. The transition thus far has been smooth and impressive. We look forward to what lies ahead in 2017 and beyond.
As you hopefully have gathered by now, 2016 was a very meaningful year for our band. It was a period of intense focus; of reigniting the fires of ambition and commitment. It brought a renewed focus on perspective; what is truly important to the life of this group. We were reminded to stay centered; to not forget who we are. And so we press on. We continue striving for more. Becoming satisfied can be a slippery slope. Rather than settle for being satisfied, we instead prefer sliding down that slope head first. What waits for us at the end will come up fast, but we will be ready for it. We will change if we must, but no matter what, we will have a fantastic time getting there; and we hope you will come along for the ride.
2016 year in review by founding member Lloyd Johnson.
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