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FDNY band remembers whirlwind year after 9/11

From Maria Hinajosa
CNN

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The FDNY's pipe band played at 445 funerals for firefighters in the year after 9/11.
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- When 343 New York firefighters died September 11, 2001, the department's pipe band wanted each one to have the traditional farewell.

In just one year, the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums performed at 445 services -- honoring some firefighters twice, first at memorial services and later at funerals after their remains were found.

"Sometimes it was just one piper, and sometimes it was the entire band," the group's Web site says. "We feel it is our honor and privilege to have performed for our brothers so that the mournful sounds of the pipes and drums could call them home."

The band, made up of dozens of current and former firefighters, lost one of its own, firefighter and drummer Durrell "Bronko" Pearsall, in the terror attack.

After the terror attacks, the pipers played in upscale suburbs and poor barrios, at Ground Zero itself, in the rain and through tears.

Band chairman, retired Lt. Jim McEnaney, said the pipers teach a valuable lesson. "Dedication. Commitment. Just love of our fellow firefighters and their families."

Author Kerry Sheridan followed the Emerald Society that challenging year, and recorded the experience in her book "Bagpipe Brothers," published in July.

"I wanted a document to exist about what happened and what the men went through ... there's a greater strength that you can tap into in yourself," Sheridan says. "You may not think you have it but you may find you do."

Firefighter and piper Bill Woods looks back on that year simply.

"I was confident in the guys and we have done it," he says. "It's been done and nothing like this will ever be done again. Hopefully."


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