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“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”   – Graham Greene

In 2005 – under the leadership of veteran Chicago police officer and long-time piper Joe Brady, the members of the Carolina Pipes & Drums of the Emerald Society had worked in the Johnston County area to build a public safety pipe band. At the same time, an interest in piping was growing within the Wake County EMS Division as several interested potential piping students pressed Wake County EMS Chief and resident piper – Skip Kirkwood – to help them learn to play the pipes (one of those interested medics was Assistant Chief Tony Crawford).

On May 6, 2006 – while attending the dedication of the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Raleigh, Brady (that day performing with the Charlotte Fire Department pipe band) met Crawford.  Also in attendance that day were Raleigh Firefighters Jason Lane, Joe Harwell, Lloyd Johnson and Garner Firefighter Michael Bishop.   This was the moment from which to look back on.

We often start things with a very good reason behind why we are doing it. There is typically a motivation that is driving us forward. But sometimes we can get so busy doing something that we totally lose sight of WHY we started doing it in the first place!  It’s so critical for each of us to set check points where we stop and remember WHY we started doing it to begin with and then ask yourself if where you are now is fulfilling your reason WHY you started down the path.

We can be doing something so fast and furiously and with so much intent that we get sucked into a tide that just keeps carrying us forward, and we can go weeks and even months or years before we stop and check to see if what we are doing is fulfilling the WHY we did it.

Members of pipe bands often find themselves in this situation. Some start a band with the goal of honoring fallen police officers and firefighters and others start it with the goal of becoming G1 World Champions. There is a big difference between those two and both come at very different costs.

All of us find ourselves in this situation in our own personal lives as well. Our goal may be to take on a new hobby for the sheer enjoyment, yet as we do it more it becomes competitive for us and we can become obsessed with being the very best. In that process we suck the sheer enjoyment out of it and we find that we are no longer achieving the WHY we had hoped to.

When our journey began 10 years ago none of us realized we would have come so far, so fast. It wasn’t luck by any means – rather a simple case of preparedness meeting opportunity. The band is a volunteer group – and their dedication has shined all the way through and leading up to 07 May 2016 at the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial – that moment where we now find ourselves looking ahead…

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