Interview with a Patriot Guard

United as one, they stand shoulder-to-shoulder to give final tribute to a veteran they neither knew nor met.  It matters not.
In blazing heat or freezing rain with America’s flag at their side, these guardians called Grumpy, Rooster, Wingman, and X-Ray stand steadfast.  Silent.  Respectful. Reverent.  For that is what Patriot Guards do.
Dressed in uniforms of leather pants and vests, they mount motorcycles to form the column that will escort the veteran on his last journey home.  Shiny chrome reflects the sunlight and United States flags blow in the wind behind their powerful machines.
Who are these unselfish men and women who give their time willingly to “honor those who risk their lives for America’s freedom and security?” 
Greg Weeks, a proud Patriot Guard Rider explains:              
Q.  What is the Patriot Guard?
A.  The Patriot Guard is a group of motorcycle riders that respect the United States flag and the servicemen and women who fight for it.
Q.  Why did you join the Patriot Guard?
A.  Some of the people I ride with were members and I wanted to belong to an organization that stood in a flag line during funerals and showed respect for veterans of all wars and non-wars.  Veterans that are killed in this current war should be shown the ultimate respect when they are laid to rest as well as their families.
Q.  Do you have to own and ride a motorcycle to belong?
A.  No.  But from all the “missions” I have been on, only motorcycles lead the casket to the cemetery.
Q.  Do you have to be a Veteran to join?
A.  No.  Anyone who has respect for their country, veterans, and the flag can join.
Q.  Where are some of the places you’ve ridden?
A.  Fayetteville & Springdale Arkansas.  Joplin and Lamar Missouri.  Spiro, Oklahoma.
Q.  What was the largest number of bikes that went on a “mission?”
A.  The most bikes I’ve seen at a mission was in Lamar, Missouri.  I’m guessing there were 250-300 bikes there.
Q.  I’ve noticed that the riders all wear vests with beads hanging off the sides.  Are these for decoration or do they have meaning?
A.  The beads represent ribbons they received while in the military.  A lot of them are Vietnam ribbons.  Since I’m a Vietnam era veteran (in the service during the war but not outside the country) the beads I wear are for the National Defense Service medal and the USAF Good Conduct medal.  The other beads represent the United States Flag, blue with the correct number of beads for the red and white stripes.

The United States flag is folded and given to the widow.  The haunting sound of Taps drifts over the orderly rows of white headstones, and the Patriot Guard holds their salute until the last soulful notes dissolve and follow the veteran into eternal peace.  My eyes fill with tears; not from sorrow but from pride. 
My brother was a United States Air Force Veteran.

For more information about the Patriot Guard and to read their mission statement go to: http://www.patriotguard.com/
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One Response to Interview with a Patriot Guard

  1. Jan Morrill says:

    Thanks, Ruth! A perfect blog for Veteran's Day!

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