Saturday, July 08, 2006

It doesn’t seem to get any easier...

I joined the Patriot Guard Riders back in May. In the last eight days, I attended 3 “missions”. I am still blown away by the amount of compassion these people have for complete strangers and their families and friends. On July 1, the beginning of the LONG 4th of July weekend over a hundred Patriot Guard Riders got together to honor a soldier who died in Iraq.
As each motorcycle pulled into the parking lot of the Stadium, the mood ran the range of surprise, excitement to pride. At least that’s how I felt. I was surprised at the number of bikes (40 as I arrived) already there, then excitement that more kept pouring in from every entrance to the parking lot and finally pride that regardless of the whether or not the “protestors” (UGs – Uninvited Guests) show up, Cpl. Christopher D. Leon was going to get a an awesome send off. There were a total of 89 motorcycles and 6 “cages” (4 wheeled vehicles) that made up the escort from the church to the cemetery. This did not include the vehicles of the family and friends.
I hate to have been stuck at an intersection waiting for our motorcade to pass. Fortunately, the UGs did not show and the family was able to say goodbye in peace.
Saturday, I attended 2 more missions, my 4th and 5th mission. Unlike the very first one I attended, where I was a bit nervous about the possibility of UGs being there, I knew what to expect and my reason for being there changed from outrage at a group of hate-filled people to honoring a soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Regardless of my feelings regarding the war, the families mourning do not deserve to have anger added to the list of emotions they were already going through as they bury a family member.
Whatever their reasons for joining the Patriot Guard Riders P7070190
(and some have more of a reason than others), as a group, their mission is to make any UGs insignificant to the family and friends of the soldier being laid to rest. In fact, since I’ve joined, I have made them insignificant in my reason for being there. It doesn’t matter that of all the missions I have been on they haven’t made an appearance. If the sight of strangers with flags on the motorcycles providing escort to the cemetary, if the sight of the same strangers standing in attention with flags in hand on either side of the entrance to the church and cemetery acting as shields or if the outpouring of condolences and prayers from people across the country alleviate any of the hurt the families are already going through, then the Patriot Guard Riders have done more than their share. As if shares for alleviating hurts in this world are ever distributed evenly.
If I am able, I’ll be at the next one…

Until there is no longer a need for any of this…


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