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Morrow fire fighter/EMT Rutmann carries bagpipes when not hauling hoses
by Bill Baldowski
April 03, 2013 05:24 PM | 2261 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Morrow firefighter/EMT James Rutmann, who said he is proud to work with the Morrow Fire Department, wears the traditional uniform, including kilt, of a bagpiper as he performs at numerous public safety ceremonies and events with bagpipe bands.
Morrow firefighter/EMT James Rutmann, who said he is proud to work with the Morrow Fire Department, wears the traditional uniform, including kilt, of a bagpiper as he performs at numerous public safety ceremonies and events with bagpipe bands.
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Morrow Firefighter/Paramedic James Rutmann not only found his biological parents after years of searching but, at the same time, found a family talent that he now proudly exemplifies.

The 40-year-old married father of three, who has been with the Morrow Fire Department for three years, is not only a musician but has mastered one of the most demanding and difficult instruments to play, the bagpipes.

He has become so skilled with this Celtic-related instrument, he was asked to join, and is now a member of, two bagpipe bands renowned throughout the Southeast, the City of Atlanta Pipe Band and the John Moore McIntosh Band.

He appears regularly with the Atlanta Pipe Band at the Highland Games held annually at Stone Mountain.

His story as to how he became interested in being a “piper” is one where fate played a big role.

“I was adopted as a child and raised by a German family,” Rutmann said. “For as long as I can remember, I had wanted to meet my biological parents but had pretty much given up hope of ever finding them.”

However fate intervened 16 years ago in the form of a knee injury which resulted in Rutmann temporarily relocating to Florida for rehabilitation.

Just as he was cleared to return to work after the injury, he was contacted suddenly by his biological aunt who offered Rutmann the opportunity to meet his biological family who lived in Florida, and he jumped at the chance.

“I remember sitting down with my biological parents and grandparents and we were all trying to get to know one another after all this time apart,” he remembered of the 1997 meeting.

During that meeting, Rutmann’s biological grandfather asked him what kind of music he was interested in.

“I told him I was drawn to Celtic music, especially the bagpipes, but I hadn’t thought about it too much,” he said.

Then his grandfather abruptly left the room but returned playing the bagpipes.

“I didn’t know it until then that my grandfather was a piper and I was so taken by the instrument, I asked him to teach me to play,” Rutmann said, after which his grandfather began teaching him the basics of the instrument, which has been played for centuries throughout many parts of Europe but is most closely associated with Scotland and Ireland.

“That was 16 years ago and I had the honor of being my grandfather’s student for about a year and a half before he died,” Rutmann said.

Fire and police departments have a long history of association with bagpipers, especially in ceremonies honoring or remembering those who have died in the line of duty or other special events.

Rutmann’s story is a little different as he plays to honor his “brothers” in public safety and his grandfather.
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