AFFI Honor Guard

Amazing Grace



Honor Guard Oath

Written by Thomas J. Matousek Jr. Forest Park Local #2753



Here's what's new:

2020 Daniel J. Bower Commitment To Excellence Award was awarded to Mike Newton Local #3005.


Watch for events.

demoClick HERE to view our upcoming events for the year.


Illinois Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial/Medal of Honor Ceremony; May 11 - 12, 2020, Springfield, Illinois Cancelled

IAFF Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial; September 18 - 20, 2020, Colorado Springs, Colorado





Amazing Grace

Four Stanza's

When you hear the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois Honor Guard Pipes & Drums play Amazing Grace, you will notice that it is played four times. Click here to hear Amazing Grace by the AFFI Honor Guard's 8th District Pipes & Drums.   There is meaning behind each stanza.

First stanza is played for you being born, coming into the world alone. This stanza is played by a solo piper.

Second is played for the celebration of you and your family. This stanza is played by pipes & drums.

Third is for your whole life with your family, friends, and your FD family. This stanza is played by all pipers & drummers.

Last is for your death, leaving the world alone. This stanza is played again, by a solo piper.

Lyrics to Amazing Grace

"Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)"

Amazing grace How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine


History of Bagpipes in the Fire Service


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. One of these was the Great Highland Bagpipe, often played at Celtic weddings, funerals and ceilis (dances).

It wasn't until the great potato famine and massive Irish immigration to the East Coast of the United States that the tradition of the bagpipes really took hold in the fire department. In the 1800's, Irish immigrants faced massive discrimination. Factories and shops had signs reading "NINA" - No Irish Need Apply. The only jobs they could get were the ones no one else wanted - jobs that were dirty, dangerous, or both - firefighters and police officers. It was not an uncommon event to have several firefighters killed at a working fire. The Irish firefighters' funerals were typical of all Irish funerals - the pipes were played. It was somehow okay for a hardened firefighter to cry at the sound of bagpipes when his dignity would not let him weep for a fallen comrade.

Those who have attended a funeral where bagpipes were played know how haunting and mournful the sound of the pipes can be. The most famous song played at fire and police funerals is Amazing Grace. It wasn't too long before families and friends of non-Irish firefighters began asking for the bagpipes to be played for fallen heroes. The bagpipes add a special air and dignity to this solemn occasion.

Bagpipe bands represent both fire and police often have more than 60 uniformed playing members. They are also traditionally known as Emerald Societies after Ireland - the Emerald Isle. Many bands wear traditional Scottish dress while others wear the simpler Irish uniform. All members wear the kilt and tunic, whether it is a Scottish clan tartan or Irish single color kilt.

Today, the tradition is universal and not just for the Irish or Scottish. The bagpipes have become a distinguishing feature of a fallen hero's funeral.

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Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois Honor Guard:

Formed on:

January 30, 1993

On January 30, 1993 69 members of the Associated Firefighters of Illinois formed the 1st ever statewide Honor Guard. Our membership is now close to 600 strong. Through the years, this Honor Guard has been there to honor, to cherish, to remember our fallen comrades and bestow respect and dignity to our comrades family. This has been and will continue to be our commitment to you "Whatever It Takes."