Sunday, November 10, 2013

Patriot Guard Riders

In time for Veterans Day, I'd like to introduce you to the Patriot Guard Riders. Perhaps you're already familiar with this organization - I wasn't until my brother's funeral this past weekend.

They originally formed to protect families of deceased and fallen heroes: be they law enforcement, fire fighters, first responders or any active duty or veteran service member of the armed forces. The impetus was the Westboro Baptist Church, who claimed that the deaths of American troops in Iran and Afganistan was God's retribution for homosexuality tolerance in the U.S. These motorcycle riders would block the Westboro protesters with their motorcade replete with large waving American flags and by revving up their engines while singing patriotic songs.

The group has evolved to establish a mission of RESPECT. They are a non-profit 501(3)C dedicated to ensuring respect and dignity for our fallen heroes. Check out their website for more details: Patriot Guard Riders.

They'll perform this selfless ministration for any family of a service hero who requests it. ANY. This is regardless of political or religious affiliation. I'm humbled by their beliefs, values and dedication. They didn't know my brother personally, yet showed up on a cold and blustery November day to perform a duty of utmost RESPECT. Some rode from sizable distances to assist us. They accompanied our procession from the agreed upon meeting place to almost an hour's drive to the Veterans Cemetery.

The first of our Patriot Guard Riders arrive.

While we waited for a prior funeral observance to finish, our Patriot Guard Riders rode ahead and established themselves into their sentinel positions:
The Patriot Guard Riders surround my brother's final resting place.

They held their posts steadfast until every last one of us departed.

My brother was a decorated (Bronze Star, Purple Heart) Communications Officer of the U.S. Air Force and served in Vietnam and other countries. He was also a VFW Post Commander for several years and volunteered his time and talents generously. I'm so proud that his life and service was honored by this illustrious organization. There are no words to describe my gratitude, awe and how much I'm moved by it all.

Patriot Guard Riders, I salute you.