Many people think of Memorial Day as a day of grilling out, parades, and the unofficial first day of summer. While all of that is true, Memorial Day is also a time to pay respect to the fallen men and women of our armed services. Motorcycle riders from groups such as the American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard Riders, Warriors Watch Riders, and others volunteer their time on this and many other days to help preserve the respect of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The American Legion Riders started in 1993, and currently have over 106,000 members in over a thousand chapters. They are well known for their charitable work and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars benefiting veterans homes, severely wounded service members, schools and children’s hospitals. Many members will be participating in the annual Rolling ThunderRide on Memorial Day Weekend to publicize POW-MIA issues.
Members of the American Legion Riders went on to form the Patriot Guard in 2005 in an effort to maintain a level of respect for fallen military heroes. They do this, as invited guests of the families, by escorting funeral processions and providing a shield when needed from protesters that may show up. This Memorial Day PGR Road Captain Roland “Chappi” Garza will be participating in a Gold Star Memorial escort as well as in a local parade or two. “There is a parade in Manteca, Fremont, and Morgan Hill, so it really depends on where I feel like riding to.” With 230,000 Patriot Guard members, all of the events should be well attended.
The Warriors Watch Riders is another group that is bound by their support for our armed forces, and they use their motorcycles to help draw attention to their cause. While they share similar views as the Patriot Guard Riders, they believe that there is more to supporting the families of our military than just funeral escorts. Their vision statement says it best. “The Warriors’ Watch Riders envision a day when every member of the United States Armed Forces, as home and abroad, and their families feel appreciated, honored, respected and loved by the citizens they risk their lives to protect.” They have many rides planned for this Memorial Day including participating in parades and flag lines nationwide.
Wherever your ride takes you this Memorial Day, pause for a moment and reflect on the sacrifices made by the brave men and women of our armed forces to protect your freedom over the years.