Above / Medinah Highlanders Andre Ciesla, Brandon Zears, and Adam Bryant played “When the Battle’s O’er” at Naperville’s “Spirit of the American Doughboy” sculpture to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War on Nov. 11, 2018. The Doughboy sculpture is located in Burlington Square Park, just south of the Naperville Train Station. (Photo courtesy of Agnes Tazbirek)

“Early Sunday morning, on Veterans Day, while eating breakfast at Egg Harbor Cafe in downtown Naperville, I noticed a table with three men wearing Scottish kilts,” emailed Jini Clare. “I asked them why they were wearing kilts, assuming they were participating in a special parade or concert honoring the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. I was surprised by their answer and even more surprised to learn that no media had been alerted to witness their participation in an international effort to commemorate the centenary of the end of ‘the war to end all wars.’ They chose Naperville’s ‘Spirit of the American Doughboy’ to play the tune ‘When the Battle’s O’er.’ 

“The story of ‘Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute’ and Naperville’s small part in the international commemoration is attached to this email,” added Clare.

Tribute to Peace and Those Who Fought for Our Freedom

Before the break of dawn on Sunday, three young men stood in the cold at the foot of Naperville’s Doughboy sculpture and played “When the Battle’s O’er” on their bagpipes. In doing so, they joined more than 2,500 pipers around the world who played the song at 6AM, commemorating the signing the armistice and the end of World War I exactly 100 years ago.

The musicians, Adam Bryant and Brandon Zears from Naperville and Andre Ciesla from Chicago, are members of the Medinah Highlanders, an outstanding highland pipe and drum band affiliated with the Medinah Shrine Temple.

According to Brandon Zears, he and his friends heard about this international commemoration through a fellow bagpiper and thought it would be fun to do.

“Adam is a vet – a former Marine,” Brandon explained. “We all have family members who served in the military, and we support our veterans.”

Brandon grew up in Naperville and was aware of the Doughboy sculpture in Burlington Square Park.

He added, “Since it was a World War I tribute, we chose to play at the sculpture commemorating those who served in that war.”

The worldwide effort, Battle’s Over- A Nation’s Tribute, was organized by Pageantmaster Bruno Peek and the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland.

During the First World War, American soldiers were affectionately known as “Doughboys.”

Postcard featuring the “Spirit of the American Doughboy” in Burlington Square Park is from Steve Hyett’s collection.

Naperville’s sculpture, “Spirit of the American Doughboy,” was created by E. M. Viquesney in 1920. The sculptor was determined to honor the bravery and sacrifices of the American men who fought for democracy in Europe. These courageous men endured brutal conditions in the Great War, thought to be “the War to End All Wars,” and tens of thousands died. At least 135 copies of Viquesney’s doughboy sculpture, named the official World War I National Memorial by The American Legion, are located in cities across the nation. 

Young men depict “Doughboys” of WWI when Naperville’s sculpture was rededicated in 2003. (PN File Photo)

Naperville’s sculpture was originally dedicated in 1926, a gift from American Legion Post 43 to honor the young Naperville men who died in that war. Although the Doughboy fell into disrepair, the community raised funds and restored the sculpture, rededicating it in 2003. (Note photo at right when the Doughboy was rededicated and put on the Century Walk tour of Naperville stories and works of art.)

The selection of music played in Naperville and around the world on Sunday morning is touching and historical. “When the Battle’s O’er” is a traditional Scottish retreat march composed by Pipe Major William Robb (1863-1909) and was played by pipers as they returned to their quarters after battles finished. Throughout history, bagpipers often raised the morale of fighting troops during battle. Retreat marches called the soldiers to return to their companies after battle to answer to their names at roll call.

In 1961, singer Andy Stewart added lyrics to the tune, providing this heart-rending chorus:

March no more my soldier laddie,

There is peace where there once was war.

Sleep in peace my soldier laddie,

Sleep in peace, now the battle’s over.

Naperville’s “Spirit of the American Doughboy” was originally dedicated in 1926, a gift from American Legion Post 43 to honor the young Naperville men who died in that war. Visit Burlington Square Park where more about Naperville connections to World War I is commemorated.