The tradition of bagpipes played at fire department and police department funerals in the United States goes back over one hundred fifty years. When the Irish and Scottish immigrated to this country, they brought many of their traditions with them.
Work-related deaths for firemen and cops were not uncommon, and when one or more of these deaths would occur, the Irish community would hold a traditional Irish funeral, including the bagpipes. Over the years, this tradition spread to firefighters and police officers who were not of Irish descent.
Unfortunately the mournful drone of the bagpipe is being heard across our country much too often.