by Patriot Byte
Memorial Day is a special day for this country. It is a day when we remember all the brave souls that gave all of what they had so that we can live free. Every time one of our servicemen or women are lost is a tragedy.
I had the distinct honor a few years ago to take part in an event that left a lasting impression on me, even to this day. A young soldier named Pfc James Coon that lived in Walnut Creek, California was killed in Iraq.
A group of motorcycle riders called the Patriot Guard Riders (www.patriotguard.org) had posted the news of his death on their website, and the slain soldiers family requested that the Patriot Guard provide an escort from the funeral home to the city park where the service would be held. I had been wanting to attend a Patriot Guard event, so I decided that this would be the one. I arrived at the funeral home early and joined up with the other 30 or so motorcyclists that had arrived to escort Pfc James Coon. It was a rainy and cold day. We escorted Pfc Coon to the City Park where a military funeral was held.
The original purpose of the Patriot Guard was to form a flag line to block the grieving families from any protesters that may be at the funeral. If there was a protest, the motorcyclists would fire up their bikes to drown out the protests.
There was no protest that day, so I stood straight and tall and held my American Flag. There were many moving speeches and kind words said about Pfc Coon. Something else that was seemingly insignificant at the time stood out to me as well. When they fired off the 21 gun salute, the citizens in the crowd jumped when every volley of fire was unleashed. Most of the people in the crowd had probably never fired a gun, let alone heard multiple guns at once.
I thought back to my dad, and his service in Vietnam, and Pfc Coon, and my Great Uncle Gene Moran, and realized how brave they really were. Brave enough, that under loud, imposing, relentless machine gun fire, they held their ground and protected their buddies. They thought clearly, and fought bravely under fire.
On Memorial Day, we must not just remember the soldiers that have died, but we must also remember those that lived. The soldiers that lived still had to bear the enormous weight of the horrors that they witnessed in war.
Memorial Day is a somber holiday. It should be a day of reflection and appreciation. We must teach our children that our freedom is fragile, and make them appreciate those that suffered and died to protect it.
After the service in the city park, we saddled up on our motorcycles to escort Pfc Coon back to the funeral home. This time, there was no police escort, no reporters, no crowds. When we arrived back at the funeral home, the director asked if we would like the honor of removing Pfc Coon's casket from the hearse. Of course, we all took our positions behind the hearse. With a stiff upper lip and a lump in my throat, we carried Pfc Coon back into the funeral home. I thanked him for his service, and promised him I would never forget what he had done.
I participated that day for a number of reasons. Probably the most important reason was for my father. I wanted my dad to understand that he had raised me to have respect and reverence for the military and this country, and that by honoring Pfc Coon, that I was honoring all our men and women that served.
I also wanted my father to know that I was there for Pfc Coon to make sure he had a respectful and honorable burial, protected from the anti-war nuts that my father had to endure when he returned from Vietnam. Last, but not least, I wanted Pfc Coon's family to see that their son did not die in vain, but rather with the respect and admiration of his country for what he had done for us.
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