The sound of bagpipes and drums is growing stronger in Sherman as the police department’s pipe band continues to add and seek new members.
Sherman’s pipe band was started in 2014 and employs a number of instruments like the bagpipes, bass drum, snare drum and tenor drum. The band performs at memorial services for fallen first responders, civic ceremonies, the Sherman Celtic Festival and Highland Games, and a host of other events celebrating Scottish and Irish culture.
“There aren’t many cities around the United States that are of similar size and have a pipe band like ours,” Sherman Police Detective and bagpiper Rob Ballew said. “You usually see them in bigger cities, so we’re excited to represent the city of Sherman and Texoma in what we do.”
The Sherman Police Regional Pipe Band formally inducted five new members Thursday with a kilting ceremony at City Hall. The new players include two area law enforcement officers and three civilians, bringing the current number of band mates up to 14.
Ballew said the connection between pipe bands, police and firefighters dates back to the mid 1800s — a time when public safety professions were anything but safe, and immigrants had few other choices for work.
“When an officer or a firefighter with an immigrant background would die in the line of duty, their family and friends would carry out their cultural traditions to honor them, and one of those was piping at funerals,” Ballew said. “Eventually, people outside the immigrant community heard that music and began asking pipers to play for all fallen officers and firefighters. That was the beginning of the tradition.”
Members of the Sherman pipe band go through basic instrument training as well as regular practices and rehearsals.
“The conduct we expect is something similar to that of an officer,” Ballew said. “We want to keep a high level of integrity and be Scottish musical ambassadors for this area.”
Grayson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Ross was officially kilted Thursday as one of the band’s new drummers. Ross said after attending services for fallen officers in Austin and Washington, D.C., he was moved by the pipe music played and wanted to get involved locally.
“It’s hard to put it into words,” Ross said. “This is a way for me to honor those officers who’ve served and those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The Sherman pipe band recently performed in Arkansas and is headed to Salado later this week for a Celtic festival and competition. The band has also set it’s sights on participating in the 2021 National Law Enforcement Memorial Parade in Washington, D.C. and is expected to begin fundraising efforts in January.
Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at email@example.com.