Scottish ancestry comes alive

For Pat Puchert, a Northern Nevada descendent of Scottish heritage, the prospect of a wailing bagpipe brings a smile to her face.

The music, like her lineage, is bold and proud. And this weekend she will celebrate Tartan Day, the American festival that coincides with the Declaration of Arbroath, Scottish independence day.

"You would be surprised at the number of Scots in Nevada," Puchert said. "Maybe its the tax structure, maybe its the independence, but Scots seem to be attracted here."

Puchert, a representative of the 500-member Nevada Society of Scottish Clans, said it's unlikely the climate, which couldn't be more unlike the drizzly, lush landscape of her father's home.

"My dad came here when he was 18," she said. "Scots stay connected. No matter where they are, they tend to join together and stay connected to their clans."

Puchert plans to visit Scotland next year to reconnect with the motherland.

Today city supervisors will get a Scottish wake-up call as Puchert, William Glenn, commander of the Edwin Cobbs Post of the Scottish American Military Society, and Rob Bledsaw of the Sierra Highlanders Bagpipe Pipe receive a proclamation declaring Saturday the Nevada observance of Tartan Day.

Since 1997, when Gov. Bob Miller signed the Tartan Day bill authored by Puchert, the observance has been heralded throughout communities in the state. This week the cities of Sparks and Reno, as well as Las Vegas and Henderson, have already made declarations of their own.

The celebration will culminate Saturday Night as the Scottish American Military Society holds its Tartan Day Ceileigh at the SANGA Club, Nevada Air Guard. For information on the party call Hugh Lantz at 825-8233.

"It's big among Scottish Americans," Puchert said. "We want to keep it observed locally."

Glenn, who is reaching the end of a military career in which he has served as a Naval flight officer, naval intelligence officer, and U.S. Army counter intelligence corps officer -- not to mention 5-plus years in Vietnam -- said American military and Scottish traditions overlap.

"Scots are known the world over as warriors," he said. "They were sent all over the world to fight for other countries."

Bagpipes at the funerals of military and paramilitary service people is one of the Scottish traditions that has survived in military life, Glenn said, symbolizing Scots' important roles in the the United States' foundation and independence. Also, Scottish American military inductees are permitted to wear kilts in lieu of traditional uniforms at formal ceremonies.


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