Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Patriot Guard Riders

For my first blog here, I want to talk about something that has caught and held my attention like a deer to headlights. The Patriot Guard Riders; if you ride, you've probably heard of them. Their website (http://www.patriotguard.com/) boasts over 100,000 members nationally. If you haven't been there and read through this site, do yourself a favor and go there... now.

OK, been there? Now I'll get on with this.

One of the friends I ride with invited me to ride on a Patriot Guard "mission". I was intrigued after hearing what they stand for, and I welcomed a chance to ride. I was not prepared in the least for what I was about to experience.

Before I get into a description of that day, let me just say that as a rider, I am often sneered at by other drivers, ignored by mothers with their children when I walk into a store in my leather riding gear, or looked at with astonishment that I, a respectable mother of two, would ride with such "rough and irreputable" people. What I know to be true, is that motorcycle riders are just people like anyone else. They have families, pay their taxes, and work for a living, just like me. They are caring and giving people. However, the general non-riding public refuses to ackowledge this fact. I know, because I see it all the time. The Patriot Guard Riders will change that, and have already. History is in the making.

So I meet with this group of people, who are about to ride to a church and stand guard with their flags and create a protective atmosphere for a bereaved family, who'd lost their son, a soldier, in the line of duty. OK, I'm thinking, I want to be part of that.

If you've read up on the PGR website, you'll already know that this group was formed in response to some protesters from a cult church who decided they should protest the war by making hurtful and rude signs, then attempting hold them up in full view of a family who'd lost their loved one in the war. The PGR mission: to prevent anything from disrupting the reverence, honor and respect deserved by this young soldier who'd lost his life protecting our freedom.

As I stood in the flag line and watched the family and friends walk between us and file into the church, I held myself at attention and struggled not to cry. I didn't know these people, yet I did. They are responsible for having a son brave enough to fight for MY freedom. I was obligated to be there and I didn't know it until that day.

As we rode in the long procession behind the hearse, some 50 bikes strong, not one person revved their motor, and it almost seemed like the quietest of days in spite of the rumble from all the bikes. And at the grave site, we once again stood in two lines, surrounding the family, standing in honor and respect. I could see the faces of the family, and I believe we brought some semblance of peace to them.

The creation of the Patriot Guard has, and will keep doing so, enabled the world (and yes the world, for there are comments and letters from everywhere about the Patriot Guard) to see that those who ride bikes have heart; they are respectable, and honorable human beings.

I never served in the military, but I have enormous respect for those who did and do. In my youth, I wanted to fly jets, go to war and shoot big guns. They didn't let women do that back then, and the Vietnam war era was ending. I've spent my life doing all the things freedom lets me do, and now I can give something back to those who fight for me.

I went home that day with the knowledge that God had led me to the PGR and here I am. I'm hooked.

I am not a proponent of war, but I am a supporter of those who are asked to go to war for this country. They are called, and they go, and they know what has to be done and are willing to do it. For that I owe them whatever it is I can give. The fact that I can ride free because of them is poetic in that now I can ride for them.

Yesterday, I rode with the PGR again. Men and women, of all ages. War veterans, and civilians. All came to pay their respect and honor one who paid a very big price for our freedom. He kept his life, but lost his legs and hands. As I looked down at my own hands and legs, I said a prayer and asked God to please look after this very important person and his family.

And while you're at it Lord? Could you remind that inattentive driver to look before pulling out in front of me? Or wake up that glazed over looking business man so he won't fade into my lane on the interstate? Thank you Lord, I'll be riding with the Guard next time around, if it be your will.


rc said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging Sam. One voice may be a whisper but a thousand can be a roar (thats a quote4 from someone, just can't remember who).

Great first post. Look forward to many more.

David said...

Great blog Sam.... I put mine on my myspace page about my first ride. It was with RC, who posted before me. I can also say I am extremely proud to be a part of this family of people that honor our military. They accepted me even though I was driving a cage. But as of this past week I now have a bike! Tune ups and new tires will be done this weekend so I can ride on the next mission - my bro-in-law coming home from Afghanistan on the 17th!

nativenyerintexas said...

I've been a member of the PGR for about four years now (I think) and have been to moremissions than I care to remember. Een one is too much but I'll Stand Tall and Silent as long as our heros keep falling. One mission in particular from back in May prompted me to write about it on my blog. I welcome you to rear it and if by the end you haven't shed a tear, I'd be surprised.