On this great day, November 11th, we remember all those that have served, are serving, or have given his or her life to serve our great nation: Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves. So many have sacrificed their lives or paid the ultimate sacrifice for serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. They should not and will never be forgotten. They are what makes this country great!
I, myself, have had an opportunity to serve more than once… with the United States Army, a band of brothers that I will NEVER forget, and with the PGR, a bond that I share with men and women, some of whom I have NEVER met. Who is the “PGR”, you ask? For the answer to that question, I would need more room to post than is allowed here, but I will do my best to honor and pay respect to these “Unspoken Heroes”.
“PGR” stands for Patriot Guard Riders. If you have not learned or heard of this term before, you are in for a very informative tutorial, as I am about to tell you. The Patriot Guard Riders started as a group of bikers who, after 9/11, wanted to make a difference in the lives of the families who were having to experience the pain and grief associated with losing a loved one who served in the military, only to have that pain and grief doubled or even tripled by protestors at funeral services of their loved ones, the protestors mainly being from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. These men and women would escort the funeral procession to grave-side services and then stand a “flag line”, or basically make a human wall around the family and friends at the funeral, so that no outside protestors could interfere or otherwise disturb the funeral in any way. These men and women began, what is now, a NATIONAL organization comprised of men and women of all backgrounds and walks of life, whether having served in the Armed Forces or not. They are not a political group, nor are they a “gang” of any type. They only have two simple rules to follow: Do NOT, under any circumstances, engage in a confrontation with any outside protestors, and ALWAYS be respectful!
Having stood many “flag lines” with my fellow brothers and sisters, as a member of the SouthWest Oklahoma Chapter of the PGR, I can tell you that there has not been one time that I have NOT shed a tear at the funeral of a fallen soldier, whether that be someone who has served in combat or not. I weep for the family and friends and for the soldier (or honored Hero), and I weep for the overall pride I feel for watching as my brothers and sisters stand beside me. In rain or snow, sleet or hail, bitter cold or blazing heat, whether just one or one hundred of us show up, there is always the utmost respect and courtesy paid to the soldier for the sacrifice he/she has made.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not difficult to become a member of the PGR. First, you have to register at the State you are in, and then at the National level. You do not have to own a motorcycle (as many show up in personal vehicles), and there is no set requirement on how many funerals, or “missions” as we call them, you have to make. You just make the missions you can, and that is it. There is no requirement that you have to be a former member of the Armed Services, although there are several hundreds of members, if not more, that have served. You show up, once registered, and you are automatically accepted as part of their family. You ARE, and will always be, the PGR.
Well, I didn’t want this to read like a recruiting poster, so I will end on this note. When you come across a member of the PGR, and you will recognize him/her when you do, extend your hand and offer a sincere “thank you”. It WILL be greatly appreciated. They will never ask for a “thank you”, or for ANYTHING for what they have done or will do, but it is well-deserved. For they are “Unspoken Heroes”. They are the PGR.