Fellow MN Patriot Guard Riders,
We finished today the first of 7 weekends remembering our fallen. We combined that with a Welcome Home for approximately 200 soldiers returning from Iraq.
I am tired.
I am feeling very fulfilled.
We trekked all over the expanse of Fort Snelling National Cemetery visiting our fallen since 2001. We silently stood as Sailor Doc read his statement.... we watched the flowers being placed at the headstone, we stood attention while taps were played, and many of us cried silent tears while hugging family members once again.
Two presentations stood out.
For Nicholas Turcotte his battle buddies came today because they could not be there for his funeral. For those who were in uniform we had the opportunity today to reassure them he was taken care of.
For Josh Lund it was watching his family, who ride with us as PGR members often, present the flowers to their son. And then Dave Lund told us his favorite story about Josh.
I learned today what the coins left on a headstone mean. I had no idea. Sailor Doc described it as a sign to family the grave site had been visited. He said the legend of the denominations is; A penny you means you visited, a nickel means you trained with him, and dime means you served with him, and a quarter means you were there with him when he was killed. I was proud to leave some coins today to honor our fallen. The money is collected at some point and used to help maintain the cemetery.
You have six more weekends to choose from to attend these ceremonies and I urge to attend one if you can. Honoring the fallen is why we are here and the core of our mission. It mattered to a family if they were there. At a very personal level it mattered to me to be there. It helped renew my commitment to this mission.
Sailor Doc and the Minnesota Platoon. Thank you.
And all this balanced out by the honor of watching families excited by the return of their soldiers after one year of being gone from home on deployment.
We, as members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard, have the best jobs in the world. I would not trade it for anything!
Added after some thought....
Being in the MN Patriot Guard has no requirements which allows people the freedom of choice as to what they do. They have no set duties or expectations made of them. They can do what they feel a passion for or what they have time to do.
The members of this organization who choose to be very active work really hard. Our organization is not built on events or special occasions. It has been built on being involved supporting our military 52 weeks a year. In all kinds of weather and under any and all circumstances.
Nothing of what we do together is glamorous. It takes special people who are willing to show up at a moments notice, accept no expressions of gratitude, and quietly melt away when it is over.
Even though we often don't know the names of these special people.. we do recognize them by face and bike/cage. It matters to who ever we are there to honor that someone show up and show they care. I am always humbled by the members of the MN Patriot Guard and lengths they go to show that care.
Thank you for being there 52 weeks a year and I salute you. We are nothing without you.