Patriot Guard Riders – Standing For Those Who Stood for US
As we celebrate the 237th birthday of our nation we must never forget the sacrifices of those brave individuals who have served and continue to serve the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Every American should find a special way to remember and celebrate our freedom and honor the individuals who keep us free.
For me it was spending some time today with a group of great Americans as they took part in a 4th of July honor ride to the final resting place of some of those who gave all.
That group, the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) was established in Mulvane, Kansas at American Legion Post 136 in 2005 in response to protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, who claim that the deaths of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan was divine retribution.
The PGR will, at the request of the deceased’s family, provide escort to and from the fallen service member’s funeral, and provide a shield in the form of a flag line at the service. The PGR’s mission is to shut down any protester’s attempts to intimidate the family in their time of loss.
The organization is open to any person, regardless of political affiliation, veteran status, and/or whether or not they ride motorcycles, as long as they have “a deep respect for those who serve our country”.
The mission of the PGR has expanded to now include “Send Off Ceremonies”, “Welcome Home Celebrations”, as well as attending funerals of law enforcement officers, fire department personnel, first responders, and any active duty member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces from all previous wars and conflicts.
Today’s PGR gathering was at a 4th of July Honor ride in Phoenix, AZ starting out in northern Phoenix and finishing up at the Nation Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, only a few miles away. The group was set to meet at 8:30 am in the parking lot of a local business.
I arrived and found a few motorcycles with large American flags flying from poles attached to the rear of the bikes. As I was getting my camera gear from the vehicle I heard the rumble of several more bikes entering the parking lot, and this was only the beginning of what became a massive gathering of flag flying bikes, leather clad patriots, escort support vehicles, along with family members and friends attending today’s ride.
The lot became a sea of American and Gadsden Flags, and bikes and riders. People driving by, were all seen giving a thumb’s up to the group. The lead rider gathered all the members into a large circle and gave a briefing of the day’s ride, then asked all present to hold hands as they sang along to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” , a very fitting way to start the 4th of July ride.
The Ride got under way as I made my way to a location up the road a few miles. I found a nice curve to set up for photos. This proved to be a great location as the bikes made their way toward me, and even thou they were still out of site, due to the curve, the rumble of the bikes approaching could be heard and it was the sound of freedom this day.
The riders continued to the Cemetery as they passed through gates. Families who were visiting the graves of their loved ones, began to take notice of the procession, as it made a full tour of the grounds. Several visiting family members began to hold a salute as the bikes passed, and most people removed their hats in respect, despite the heat of the Arizona desert.
I had a chance to speak with Mr. Neil Scherer, the Arizona Assistant State Captain of the PGR. He was very pleased with today’s turn out and made mention to the dedication of the riders. He elaborated on some past events that the group has attended and made mention of an upcoming event the PRG will be attending.
With June 30th‘s tragic events in Yarnell, Arizona where the nineteen brave fire fighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots lost their lives battling a fast moving wildfire. Services for the fire fighters are planned for next week, Tuesday, July 9th. At the request of the City of Prescott, Arizona the Patriot Guard Riders will be on hand to honor those fallen men. The WBC will have no chance of making the evening news with the Patriot Guard Riders on the Job
God Bless the Patriot Guard Riders and Thank You for your service.
If you would like to become a member or need more information on the Patriot Guard Riders
Please visit the National website and your local groups Facebook pages by searching them on Facebook.