It has come to my attention recently that some Patriot Guard Riders have been showing up at missions dressed inappropriately. Well, that’s the term that has been used. Sometimes it’s noticeably old and worn clothing that has just seen better days. Sometimes in clothing that isn’t even clean.
Further, appropriate flag protocol is not being followed. Some members hold the flag in their left hand when they’re supposed to always use their right hand. And I’ve also been advised that some members haven’t been attending missions regularly.
Let me address all of those issues at one time.
First, contrary to popular belief the Patriot Guard Riders does have an official dress code. Here it is:
Do no wear anything that could be deemed offensive to a family. If you have patches on your vest or you’re wearing a tee shirt that contains profanity…….please re-think that decision. Our families see you during a difficult time in their lives. Their emotions are jagged. They probably wouldn’t understand the meaning of the patch……but they might remember a curse word. Please just don’t.
If your clothes are worn and have seen their better days……….welcome, my brother! The Patriot Guard Riders is not in the fashion show business. We’re proud to have you stand our Flag Line.
If your clothes are dirty……well, we’re not going to judge you for that because we don’t know why they’re dirty. Maybe you broke down on the way to the mission and you’ve been lying on the roadside trying to repair your machine. Or maybe you’ve hit some really hard times but not hard enough to deter you from a mission of honor. Welcome, my brother.
And as for the proper way to hold a flag…….that’s handled differently from state to state. Just follow the instructions of the Ride Captain. We do generally ask that the flag be held upright and not dipped at all. As for right hand or left hand, hand salute or no hand salute………I would ask that our Ride Captains remember a saying that circulated amongst our membership years ago…….”There is no wrong way to do the right thing.”
We have members who cannot stand for long stretches of time. Some of us, myself included, might bring a stool to sit on and rest. Would you deny us the opportunity to render honor because our legs or backs hurt? I sure wouldn’t.
When someone shows up on the flag line you haven’t seen for a while, instead of berating them for missing the previous missions, welcome them back, and tell them you’ve missed them. We don’t always know someone else’s situation, just be thankful they showed up today.
The bottom line is this: It’s about RESPECT. Whatsoever you do – do respectfully. And before you criticize a brother or sister on the Flag Line ask yourself………..are YOU being respectful?
As summer begins to wind down let me sing my same old song again. HYDRATE!!…….Begin drinking extra water the day before a mission in the sun. Drink water at every opportunity during the mission. We need you but we need you in good shape. We do not need any heat casualties.
Thank you for all you do and may God Bless and protect each and every member of our military, some of whom are in harm’s way, protecting our freedom.
Saddle up Patriots. Let’s Roll!!