Monday, May 26, 2008

After Dark

This is the final post about the Sunset Ceremony at my son Jeffrey's university - Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. You can scroll down to see the previous posts, or you can find Part One here and Part Two over here.

As the sun began to set, music filled the night air. The RMC Band was originally a Pipe and Drum band when it was founded in 1953. It has grown to include a Brass and Reed Band, a Choir and a small group of Highland Dancers, and is now the largest volunteer band in the Canadian Armed Forces.

They marched in with all of the pomp and circumstance fitting of a military band.

The pipers piped.. the drummers drummed to the beat of our proud history.

Highland Dancers did a fling.

The Honour Guard, with their sixty nine Officer Cadets marched onto the parade square carrying our provincial flags. The graduating Colour Party handed off their duties to the incoming Party.

The darkening night made a clear shot difficult, but you can see how colourful our flags are.

When troops were garrisoned in inns, drummers were sent through the streets to sound the Tattoo (from the Dutch "taptoe" - to close the tap) in order to get the troops to return to their quarters for the night.

The tradition of Feu-de-Joie (Fire of joy) is the sequential firing of rifles to ensure that they were cleared of damp charges, and were in good working condition before the night guard was posted.

A lone piper stands atop the McKenzie Building clock tower and plays a goose bump-forming rendition of "Amazing Grace."

As the ceremony drew to a close, it was time to lower our flag.

The band faced the Canadian flag and played the National Anthem as it was being lowered.

The RMC Band played as they marched out of the parade square, signaling the end of the Sunset Ceremony. It was followed by one of the best fireworks displays I have ever seen - too good for my camera to do it justice.

Back at his dorm, we said good-bye to our boy for what we thought was going to be the full summer. As it turns out, Jeffrey's training has been postponed until mid-June, so he'll be home tomorrow for a couple of weeks. I can't wait!


Tamie said...

I loved the "fling" but that drummer boy didn't look too pleased.

I wonder how the flags are so bright when its so dark out?

Pat - Arkansas said...

Another wonderful series of photos! I got chills just thinking about a piper playing "Amazing Grace." I have just enough Scot in me to know that the sound of a bagpipe is beautiful!
You have a very handsome boy; glad he will be able to spend some time with you.

Frank Baron said...

Ah, I love pomp and ceremony! (As long as I'm in the crowd and not part of the show.)

You made me feel as if I was there.

Only I stayed drier. ;)

Gone Back South said...

There's nothing like some rousing bagpipes to lift the spirits!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a truly moving ceremony, and it's amazing how well you captured the feeling of it--especially in such low lighting conditions.

I especially loved "the fling" too!

Anonymous said...

OH MY! what a great post!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful time with us. There is no comparison when it comes to color guard, pipes and drums. So much history and tradition that is still with us today.
Have a great week!
The Bach

Leah J. Utas said...

Loved the Highland Fling pic.
Another colourful, moving post, Hilary.

Hilary said...

• Thanks TKWI. There were a few spotlights, so the flags did stand out better because of them. :)

• Thank you Pat. I'm glad you enjoyed it. In retrospect, I probably should have recorded Amazing Grace on video rather than with a dark, blurry photo. Oh well.. next year! Thanks for your kind words. :)

• Thanks, Frank. You weren't there? Hmmm.. ;)

• Welcome, Gonebacksouth.. and thanks for visiting. I really REALLY should have recorded it.. :]

• Thanks so much, Crabby. I'm glad the mood of the evening came across well enough in the photos.

• Well thanks, Bach! I agree.. historical events, buildings, items make for fun photography. I'm glad you enjoyed it and have a great week your own self. :)

• Thanks very much, Leah. :)

Daryl said...

Fabulous .. even with dimming light the photos are really good!

I love how you caught the fling mid twirl!

And its wonderful Jeffrey will be home before training


the Bag Lady said...

Hilary - thanks for sharing this with us! Hearing the pipes in your video clip brought a tear to my eye - reminds me of my dad (he was a piper).
This was terrific, and I'm sure you are thrilled to have Jeffrey visiting!

Reb said...

Well done Hilary. It is great how you caught the kilt mid-twirl.

steviewren said...

Oh, Highland drummers, pipers and dancers, be still my heart! The movie really captured the spirit of the evening!

Suldog said...


As always, some lovely photos. Did the guys doing the fling Have anything on under their kilts? No, never mind. I don't want to know.

I see that you've shown me the link love (which has nothing to do with the previous paragraph.) I have reciprocated. Thanks!

BIG Omi said...

Hey I liked that ceremony, that was very rich.. what a wonderful post... and a wonderful you toshare it with us who missed it.
Thanks and take care,

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Texas has a lot of stuff but not anything as cool as this!!

Actually in the Texas heat I bet there's a lot of guys around here who wouldn't mind wearing a kilt to keep cool. :0

Best wishes to your son. He's obviously a well accomplished individual that will go on to great things.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes bag pipes, the missing link between noise and sound but it still manages to inspire.
This whole series has been great you made it seem like as if I was there.


Hilary said...

• Thanks very much, Daryl. I'm glad you enjoyed them. And yup, it's wonderful having my boy home for a couple of weeks. :)

• Thanks for stopping by, Baggie. Nice for you to have that reminder of your Dad. And you bet I'm thrilled. He's here looking over my shoulder as I type. :)

• Thanks, Reb. Sometimes I just get lucky. ;)

• I'm glad it appealed to your heartstrings, Steviewren. :)

• Suldog, you make me laugh. The "guys" had something on under their kilts, but not what you'd expect.. since they were all girls doing that fling. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Welcome Omi, and thanks so much for your kind words. :)

• Thanks so much for your kind words EWBL. And that's the first time I've ever heard a Texan admit that something of theirs might not be the best! ;)

• Thanks "D." Jeffrey just saw your comment and said "That must be Dad". :P :)

Seamus said...

What a spectacular pageant! Wonderful shots under some pretty dicey conditions :)

Russell said...

Very, very moving post. I am MOST happy your boy will be home for a couple of weeks!! That is the BEST thing I read!

I confess I know nothing of so many of your fine Canadian traditions - and that makes me feel a bit sad because you are so close and there are so many.

I am going to look up the "old 18" today and try and figure out what that is. The piper playing at the top of the clock tower is fascinating!

The Canadian flag against the black sky is beautiful. I will mention I remember the former Canadian flag (before the maple leaf) and it always looked so British to me. I suppose it is good to have a little more separation and individualism in your flag, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for the former flag as that is what I grew up seeing.

The best picture, of course, is the last - the one of your son!

Take care.

photowannabe said...

This looked like a very thrilling ceremony with all the music and pomp. I'm glad you get to spend more time with your handsome son.
Tomorrow our younger son and family return to Oregon. We've had a good time and probably won't see them again for another 6 months or so. Hard to be a Grandparent from afar.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Beautiful event, with stunning dignity! I loved seeing this. It reminded me of England. Your son is quite a handsome young man. How fun it must be as his mom to see him shine!

Jennifer S said...

Wonderful photos! You've captured such a beautiful display that I'm sure none of you will forget.

I had never heard of the Feu-de-Joie, but love that phrase.

Stunning, all of it, and I'm so glad you shared it!

Jo said...

Hilary, wow! That is so interesting. Thank you for taking us through those ceremonies. I would love to see that in person sometime.

I love, love, love the bagpipes. My grandfather was a Captain in the British Army, and he wore the traditional uniform with the bearskin cap. It made him look seven feet tall!

Jo said...

I've loved this series of posts, Hil. I wish I could've been there for the piper's song, moments like those make my heart hurt in a good way. "Highlanders" were our school mascots & I remember how powerful it was to hear the bagpipes. Such pretty flags!

Jeffrey has your eyes. So glad you get to have more time with him, enjoy enjoy Mama Bear.

Betsy Brock said...

This was great! I've always been a sucker for pomp and circustance! And what a fine looking young man your son is! :)

Hilary said...

* Thanks Seamus. I appreciate your kind words. :)

* Thanks so much for your very kind words, Russell. Before the Maple Leaf, we did indeed have the Union Jack. I remember the changeover fairly well, though I was young(ish) at the time. I can understand your sentiment for the old flag, but I sure do love the unique appearance and symbolism of our Maple Leaf. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

* Thanks Photowannabe. Time and distance are so difficult when it separates us from our young. I sure do feel for you. :/

* Thank you very much for your kind words Meredith. I do indeed cherish those moments. :)

* Thanks so much, Jennifer. Feu-de-joie is an apt description for the pride I feel for my sons. You're right.. it's a great phrase! :)

* Thanks, Josie. It's a free event open to the public every year, so if you're ever in Kingston at that time, I'm sure you'd enjoy it. That's so cool about your Grandfather. Any photos? :)

* Thanks so much, Jo. I'm glad you enjoyed the series of images. I very rarely hear anybody express that Jeffrey resembles me so I thank you for that comment even more.. though J might not. ;)

* Thanks for your kind words, Betsy. I'm glad you stopped by. Please come back soon. :)

Latin Lupe Lu said...

We had a bagpiper at our wedding. Since we were married at the college we attended and were awakened every Sat. morning to the sound of the pipers practicing, it seemed appropriate. Pipers have moved us in so many ways.

Thanks for sharing your fabulous trip. I have to get up there!

Baglady, your dad was really a piper? AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

How strange that these pics give me shivers. I'm glad you get to have a few weeks with your boy before he's off again. :)

the Bag Lady said...

latin lupe lu - Yes, my dad took up the bag pipes when he was around 55 (or so) years old!! He had been an on-again, off-again smoker, and decided to quit smoking for once and for all and start playing the bagpipes. He played them right up until he died.
My dad was very, very cool....

Kappa no He said...

I could almost hear the bagpipes and drums and the lone...Amazing Grace. Gorgeous!

So happy Jeffrey gets to come home for a bit, too!

david mcmahon said...

Great shots, again. Love the expressions in the third shot!

Hilary said...

• That's so cool LLL. I attended a wedding once with a piper as well. It was quite memorable. I'm sure it helped make your day. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Shivers.. wow! Thanks for the visit, Susan. :)

• Thanks, Kappa. I'm quite happy about it too.. hence the long lulls between blog posts and comment replies. :/

• Thanks so much, David. :)

AphotoAday said...

Excellent job with the night lighting...   Looks like a good time was had by all...

Best regards, Don.

Hilary said...

Thanks so much, Don. I appreciate the compliment. You have incredible photos over at your own site. Time for a more lengthier visit. :)