CARIBOU, Maine — In honor of Memorial Day, a United States Navy veteran is paying tribute to other veterans, health care workers, firefighters and law enforcement by playing them a nightly tune.
Each night, at 7 p.m. Michael Bouchard performs “Piping the Side” on a boatswain’s, or bosun’s pipe, which is a Navy ritual that honors distinguished guests and visitors.
In the evenings leading up to Memorial Day, Bouchard has played the bosun’s pipe at Cary Medical Center, the Maine Veterans’ Home, the Caribou Fire and Ambulance Department and finally the Caribou Rehab and Nursing Center.
“I just started a couple days ago,” he said on May 20. “I watch TV and see other people doing things like this, and I thought, if nobody sees me, I’m fine just doing this for me. I just drive up, step out of my truck, play ‘Piping the Side’ once, get back in my truck and move on to the next stop.”
Bouchard served in the Navy for 22 years, and lived in Alabama after retiring from the military in the 1990s. He has since moved back to his hometown of Caribou to be closer to family and friends. After moving back, he said he would perform “Piping the Side” during local military events and wreath laying ceremonies.
“That was about 15 years ago,” he said. “I’m just doing this for myself now. I’m not looking for any recognition. I’m just doing it to honor the nurses, doctors, firemen, and policemen.”
Throughout over two decades in the Navy, which began during the Vietnam War and ended at the time of Operation Desert Storm, he said he has learned between 20 and 30 different tunes for the bosun’s pipe that are each used in different situations.
And the pipe he’s using is the same from his time in the U.S. Navy; Bouchard said he’s held onto it for over 45 years.
“I’ll keep going up until Memorial Day, and after that maybe I’ll keep doing it,” he said.