OK, is this a bait and switch? What does a fallen hero have to do with tolerance? Is this just a cheap ploy to get more people to read the blog? Or an excuse to tell a very moving story?
A little of all.
Background: My son is a huge punk rock fan. One of his favorite punk bands is the Dropkick Murphys, aka, DKM or the Murphys. He has seen them in concert several times and enjoys not only by the punk sound, but by the moving lyrics of many of their songs. He claims that while DKM is not the only punk band in history that has bagpipes as one of its instruments, it is the best.
DKM performs original music, as well as punk versions of several traditional Irish songs. Based in Quincy Massachusetts, they have performed around the world and have had their songs featured in movies (The Departed)[i] and in several television commercials.
One of their biggest fans was Marine Sgt. Andrew Farrar, who wrote home about how much he loved the Murphys, and wanted them to play Fields of Athenry[ii] (a poignant Irish ballad) at his funeral.
Sgt Farrar was killed in action on his 31st birthday in Iraq. His widow reached out to the Murphys and told them of his request. The Murphys packed up their gear and drove to Weymouth MA for the funeral.[iii] When they arrived at the church, they were informed that they would not be allowed to perform in the church – no bagpipes allowed.[iv]
They could have packed up and gone home. Their feelings could have been hurt.
But – and here’s the lesson of this post – they cared more about the feelings of the widow and her two young sons than any minor inconvenience they might face by not being allowed to perform in the sanctuary. So, they set up outside the church and played the requested song there.[v]
The Murphys followed up by recording an acoustic version of Fields of Athenry, as well as a punk song, Last Letter Home[vi], that they wrote to honor Sgt. Farrar. These two recordings were released on a limited-edition CD, and the proceeds donated to Sgt. Farrar’s family.
So, to restate the obvious, the moral of this story is to emphasize that we need to keep the end in mind – the Greater Good. And to keep focused on that end despite misdirection.
The Murphys did that. We should, too. To honor Sgt. Andrew Farrar.[vii]
[iv] My son is the source for not being allowed in the church. He was there when the Murphys played the song at First Avenue, in Minneapolis, in 2005 and told from the stage that they had not been allowed in the church.