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South Down DUP Flute Band

FROM the start of June each year I get a buzz inside of me that can only mean one thing: not long to go now until the 12th of July! For me it's not only a means of expressing my cultural and religious heritage and liberty. It's also a means of renewing old friendships of enjoying fellowship with the whole family and a general time of enjoyment.

On the morning of the Twelfth the excitement on each of the members in my band is plain to see. Were the South Down DUP Flute Band. We march not to offend but to rejoice in the freedom we experience in our land. As you watch the parade march past with the colours and banners flying high, each depicting great scenes of battles fought and won in order that we might have the liberty we enjoy.

Each banner also depicts what the Orange Order is all about. For me, as an Orangeman and a band man, its about our religion. It's the foundation of our Order. Each banner shows a scene from the Bible or a Bible and Crown. Here, were showing testament to God's hand upon us in years past and our dependence upon him in years to come.

For 2003 my local Twelfth demonstration was held in Rathfriland, Co Down. Its the home town of the South Down DUP FB. Our 12th July celebrations are quite small scale compared to many others in Northern Ireland. There are less than 100 bands on parade. The size though, means that the atmosphere at our demonstration is very welcoming and friendly. It is a social thing for many people as they get to see so many people they know and can have a chat with.

As the parade was in Rathfriland it meant even more to me than ever before. It gave me the opportunity to walk my hometown with dignity and pride. The streets crammed full of spectators. No one was out to cause a riot. No one was bitter. The spectators were out to enjoy themselves, the day, and everything it means to them. As you walk past you see the smiling faces, hear the conversations and the laughter, it really is something. Its something that holds a very special part in my life and in the lives of so many people not only here in Northern Ireland but around the world.

I trust it continues for many years to come so that not only my children can enjoy this occasion but that my children's children can savour "The Glorious Twelfth".

Rod, Co. Down.

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