Patriot Guard Riders stand ready to serve
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
One of the very few - and I do mean few - good things to come out of the war Iraq and Afghanistan has been the emergence of the Patriot Guard Riders.
The Patriot Guard is a group of motorcyclists who originally got together to shelter and protect the funerals of those killed in the conflict from a group of radical church members who would protest at the funerals in the belief that America's war dead were "divine retribution" for the nation's tolerance of certain alternative lifestyle groups.
The original guard sprang from a group of American Legion riders in Kansas, and has since spread pretty much nationwide with reports of more than 100,000 members. They have also broadened their mission to include honoring both veterans and any active-duty members of the armed forces, as well as their families and loved ones.
This is all done strictly by invitation of the families, and, if you talked to any member of the Patriot Guard, they would be the first to tell you that they look forward to the day when the only funerals they will be doing would be those for veterans who live to a ripe, old age.
Anyone can join the Patriot Guard Riders regardless of their beliefs as to the legitimacy of the war. They do not care what kind of motorcycle you ride or what your political views are.
To quote part of the organization's mission statement from its Web site: "The only prerequisite is respect. Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives.
1. Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families and their communities.
2. To shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by any protester or group of protesters. We accomplish the latter through strictly legal and non-violent means."
The Massachusetts chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders has been a strong presence at many funerals and fund-raisers for quite a while now. If you would like to find out more about the Patriot Guard Riders go online to www. patriotguard.org
Again, I would like to emphasize that they all look forward to the day when this is not necessary.
Thanks: I would really like to thank the gang down at Tibby's Harley-Davidson who worked to get my motorcycle rideable so that I may enjoy the last few vestiges of this year's season. After two months without, I can't tell you what a joy it was to get back in the saddle for a few rides. I feel whole again.
Also, a pox on the entire Massachusetts motor vehicle insurance system. Believe me when I tell you that we have to fight through legislative means to change this archaic system.
Goings On: The Longriders Motorcycle Club will hold an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner on Nov. 10 at the clubhouse on Longrider Lane in Ludlow. The time is 6 to 9 p.m. for this event.
Let Me Know: If your organization or dealership is planning a motorcycle-related event that you would like promoted, please e-mail a few weeks in advance with the details.
I am an equal-opportunity promoter of all things motorcycle, so please feel free to take advantage of this.
Winding Down: As we come to the end of another riding season, this column will move to once a month for the winter. But, don't worry, we'll pick back up in the spring.
That being said, as we wrap up season number two here at On Two Wheels, I would like to thank you, the Western Massachusetts motorcycle community, for allowing me to write for you and for making this column what I feel is a successful one. This is your column.
I would also like to thank The Republican and my editor, Cynthia Simison, for her unwavering support. I am truly fortunate to be in a position to indulge my passion for riding and, after being forced to go without for a while, I will never take that for granted. Again, a truly heartfelt thanks.
So look forward to my annual holiday shopping guide extravaganza, and until next time, ride safe and ride smart. Tim Aloisio of Monson has been a recreational motorcycle rider for more than 30 years. He is a member of the Springfield Area Harley-Davidson Owners Group. He can be reached at travelintim@ hotmail.com