Monday, May 31, 2010

Stop Saying “HAPPY Memorial Day”

From our good friend Jeff "SailorDoc" Seeber....

By: Jeff Seeber
Written just after Memorial Day in 2006 when I heard "Have a HAPPY Memorial Day" one too many times

I hope I live long enough to be able to get through the month of May just once without some moron sending me a Happy Memorial Day e-mail or hearing some idiot wishing people a Happy Memorial Day.

It’s bad enough I’m reminded every May and every November that very few Americans know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but expecting me to remain silent about the growing trend to turn Memorial Day into some sort of celebration is asking too much. I usually chagrin and bear it, but I’m getting too old to care who I piss off from one day to the next, so if you’re one of those fools who sends me a Happy Memorial Day e-mail or wishes people a Happy Memorial Day, listen up!

There is nothing Happy about Memorial Day. That’s why it’s called M-e-m-o-r-i-a-l Day! Memorial Day is to be commemorated, not celebrated. Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of quiet reflection, remembrance, tribute and rendering honors to those who have given their lives ensuring you nitwits can have the freedom to be able to take full advantage of the rights their deaths secured for you, one of which is the freedom to make ignorant statements like Happy Memorial Day.

Believe it or not, Memorial Day was not placed on calendars to remind you that summer has officially begun. Memorial Day is not the first day of Get Drunk While Pretending To Be An Outdoorsman At Your Cabin season. Memorial Day was not created by General Motors so their dealerships could have a Three-Day Used Car Clearance Blowout. Memorial Day is not intended to be the first day of National Burn That Burger Month.

Memorial Day is supposed to be commemorated on May 30th ... not May 28th, May 29th or May 31st. It makes no difference what day of the week the 30th falls, that’s when Memorial Day is supposed to be observed. However, the United States Congress changed the date in 1971 to the last Monday in May to give Americans yet another 3-day weekend. After all, what’s more important ... one-hundred-plus years of American tradition or giving Americans one more 3-day weekend to have a few brewskis while driving to see Yellowstone with the wife and kids?

The National Moment of Remembrance was started to encourage all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. Of course, it’s been a dismal failure. I mean, c’mon, you expect Americans to pause for an ENTIRE MINUTE to remember those who died serving the people who are too busy to pause for ONE ENTIRE MINUTE? Are you nuts?

It’s bad enough American Civics is no longer taught in American schools. It’s bad enough most Americans ignore Armed Forces Day. It’s bad enough that very few civilians know that May is National Military Family Appreciation Month. It’s bad enough few Americans understand that Veterans Day is now intended to honor all those who have worn a uniform serving in this nation’s Military, especially those still living. But it’s pitiful that most Americans can’t seem to comprehend that Memorial Day is the one day a year when we are asked to remember those who gave their lives for this country.

Let me repeat that ... they gave their LIVES. Most of them were teenagers or in their twenties. Many of them left behind a spouse after being married for a very short period of time. Some of them left behind infant children who grew up never knowing one of the two people who brought them into this world with the good fortune of being born a free person. All of them had plans for a full and long life, but they interrupted those plans because they knew that serving their country, and the risks that commitment entails, was more important than life itself.

Their dreams and their expectations ended suddenly on a battlefield in some foreign land, or in a training accident at home or abroad, or during a secret mission to ensure this country is not attacked without warning. Some of them are buried in unmarked graves on foreign soil or rest forever in the sea. Some became missing in the fog of war and will never be accounted for.

Is it too much to ask that Americans pause for one day every year to recognize those who gave the last full measure of devotion? Are we as a nation so selfish, so lazy, so ignorant of the reality of the price of freedom, that we can’t set aside even one day to acknowledge the sacrifice of each and every one of our honorable dead? Apparently it is too much to ask. Apparently expecting Americans to relinquish even one day of basking in the sun while swilling beer is too much of an imposition. Let’s face it, most Americans prefer a Happy Memorial Day.

For those of us who served, and for the families and friends of those who gave their lives, Memorial Day will always be the one day a year when we publicly honor our buddies, our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, our fathers, our mothers, our nieces and nephews, our cousins ... all those who perished, their young lives cut short, while serving America ... while fighting next to us ... while protecting you. The rest of the year, we remember them in private. We remember them daily. We will never forget them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Mounted Flag Policy....


We have debated for a long time the issue of flags being flown while motorcycles are moving. There is no question how beautiful they are as escorts come in with the flags mounted and waving in the wind.

That said… too often people have had to dodge them as they break off and our US Flag hits the ground and bikes run over it. I was on one run last year that as we pulled in I realized the passenger on the bike in front of me had been holding the flag pole the entire ride. We have the rubber band effect of group rides where the back bikes are running 50 mph or more trying to catch the group in front of them with flags poles looking like an ultralight fishing pole bent over.

We know that many members have some really well built mounting systems and we know that some are really suspect. We aren’t engineers or qualified to inspect these systems to say which are Ok and which aren’t. Even a good mounting system with a pole that has been subjected to miles of highway speed is a risky proposition.

Knowing how passionate people are about having flags flying we asked a group of Senior Ride Captains, Ride Captains, representatives of the Board of Directors, and specialists like insurance agents, attorneys, and safety instructors weigh on what our official policy should be. What was the most important factor is what we all believe to be a safe practice that still allows flying flags.

The below is our policy effective immediately. The policy really is nothing more than formalizing what our guidelines had been.

It is the policy of the MN Patriot Guard that flags larger than a 20" X 20" flag may not be flown from any vehicle (motorcycle, car, etc.) traveling at speeds of 35 miles per hour or more during any part of a mission including an organized ride to or from a mission. Anyone flying a flag from their vehicle at speeds less than 35 miles per hour is responsible to ensure that all flags, poles, mounts, and any other associated equipment are safe and securely attached to their vehicle. The ride leader is responsible to lead the ride in such a way that no vehicle following will exceed 35 miles per hour when flags have been allowed to fly. Any person asked not to fly a flag from their vehicle by the Ride Captain in Charge of a mission or event, or their designee, shall comply with the request or not participate in the mission or event.

This puts the burden of safe flag flying on the person who chooses to mount them on their motorcycle. There is no requirement to do so and we really do not encourage it. It is a personal choice each person makes to put them on his or her motorcycle. As long as the policy is followed any injuries or damage that result from something bad happening is not likely to be the liability of the Ride Captain In Charge or the Minnesota Patriot Guard. The liability will likely rest entirely with the rider who had a flag or mount come off in front of the following riders.

We can not declare any system safe because we aren’t trained to do so. We will inspect for those we don’t think are safe and might ask you to put away your flag if there is reason to believe there is an issue. We ask that you comply with that request and ask your understanding if you are asked to not participate in the mission should you refuse to put the flag away.

You might ask why create a policy when we had a guideline in place. Creating a formal policy helps creates some liability protection for our Ride Captains that didn’t exist before assuming they adhere to the policy put in place. They put in so much of their personal time and money that we felt it wasn’t fair they were exposed to as much liability as they were before.

I realize that any type of restriction may not sit well with some people. I hope that most of those who choose to fly flags understand that we haven’t restricted flying flags but put in some safety boundaries that help protect all of us.

Thanks for everything you do!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Board of Directors Elections and Asst State Captain

Members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard,

We have a number of things to announce!!
Board of Directors

We recently elected two members to the Board of Directors that will be effective May 10, 2010.

Elected by Leadership Advisory Committee, and ratified by the Board of Directors, are Cheryl Berg Wineman and Greg “Springer” Yung to serve two year terms.

Cheryl is an active member who we at missions most often see wearing a pink vest! Cheryl has served as a business manager in the medical field and has significant understanding of financial management and audit compliance.

Greg is a returning Board member agreeing to help out for two more years. A Navy veteran of 6 years in Vietnam Greg has a long history of success in business serving at one point as a Vice President in a large medical device company.

Both Cheryl and Greg have tremendous passion for the Patriot Guard and are just the kind of people we need helping us out.

Leaving the Board is Jerry Teeson. Jerry was instrumental and key helping us form how the Board should be structured and how it can work. He belongs to numerous professional organizations and was one of two real estate agents nationwide to receive a Distinguished Service award from the National Association of Realtors in 2009. Jerry also serves on the Board for Trout Unlimited here in Minnesota. Thank you Jerry for your service to our country in the Army and for being so key in helping the Minnesota Patriot Guard move forward.
Assistant State Captin

George Winslow has accepted the role of High Plains Regional Captain with the Patriot Guard Riders. As a National leader George stepped down from his role as Minnesota Assistant State Captain and member of the Board. I can not ever thank George enough for his dedication and energy while being in his role as Mankato Sector Ride Captain and Assistant State Captain. He has been rock solid and steady in helping us go from a bunch of rag tag motorcyclists to one of the best Patriot Guards in the country. I will miss George’s guidance as Assistant Sate Captain but will still lean on him as a friend. Best of luck George!!

Replacing George as Assistant Sate Captain is Tim Leonhardt. Many of you know Tim as the guy always hustling and helping at missions around the state with his floppy High Plans Drifter hat on! Tim is currently serving as Northwest Metro Ride Captain, Web Master, and Ride Captain Representative to the Board of Directors. Tim is the kind of person who when I asked others what they thought of my naming him as this said ”good call… the best choice!” With Tim assuming this role he will relinquish his role as ride Captain Representative on the Board and we will soon launch another election to replace his position as that.

Both Tim and George’s changes are effective immediately.

Sometimes when we have leadership changes people begin to get nervous. I am a firm believer that in an organization like ours change is great! We get new ideas, new energy, new ways of looking at things, and we can forward faster. If we get stale or stagnant as leaders we begin to get bored and end up in the same routines. Change helps avoid that possible problem.

This is also a volunteer organization and none of our jobs should be full time. We all have family and jobs to tend to and after a few years it is time to go back and make sure we are taking care of them. The amount of time a Ride Captain and other leaders invest is large. Each mission takes hours to plan and all that time is being taken away from something else. Next time you see your Ride Captain please let him or her know that you appreciate what they do. None of them do it for the recognition or glory.. but a pat on the back goes a long way to filling up their emotional gas tanks!

Doug Bley
Minnesota Patriot Guard
State Captain
President, Board of Directors