Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Patriot Guard Riders

You have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church's cruel demonstrations at military funerals, carrying signs about how the American tolerance of homosexuality is causing God to turn his back on us and the deaths of American soldiers is divine retribution. These people are jackals. They have no problem intruding their hate filled agenda on the grief of families and dishonoring our nation's dead.

It turns out that, although the Bush administration has chosen to ignore this, there is a group which has turned out to defend the families. This group is the Patriot Guard Riders, a growing coalition of veterans' motorcycle clubs, American Legion and other veterans' groups, and now, apparently, members of the peace movement. One of the incredible things about the Patriot Guard is that it has no political agenda. It is composed of liberals and conservatives. It exists for one purpose -- to defend the fallen during their last time of need.

Read more about them in Supporting the Troops by William Rivers Pitt

Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address spoke pointedly of caring "for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan," of the solemn responsibility held by this nation to those who served and died in her service. A plaque outside the Veterans Administration building in Washington, DC, bears these exact words. It is a motto, a mantra, and today, an utterly unfulfilled promise.
Consider the following.
The Bush administration's most recent budget framework includes $910 million in cuts to the Veterans Administration. 2,615 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and yet efforts to double the death benefit for soldiers killed in active duty have been forcefully resisted by the White House. Pay raises for soldiers have been capped. The tax-cut mantra of the White House has not trickled down far enough to assist the troops on the line; soldiers fighting overseas and soldiers deployed for extended periods have not been deemed worthy of even minimal tax relief, while billions of dollars in tax cuts are gifted to the wealthiest among us.
Nearly 20,000 soldiers have been wounded in Iraq, but must wait nearly six months before being seen by a VA hospital. The prescription co-pay costs for veterans were doubled in Bush's proposed 2005 budget. His 2004 proposed budget would have eviscerated funding for the education of military children. The White House formally opposed allowing National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon's health care program. Perhaps worst of all, the White House quietly attempted to cut combat pay for all soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this measure was quickly scrapped after it became public.
This from the man whose staged photo-ops with serving soldiers have become the stuff of lore. This from the man whose defenders denounce critics with the line, "Why don't you support the troops?" This from an administration filled with officials who, almost to a man, had other priorities when they were called to serve.


"Caring for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan," said Lincoln. The government isn't doing it; this administration, in particular, seems all too willing to create new veterans while dispensing with the systems of care that tend to them after their service is concluded. Men like Hannah, and the riders of the Patriot Guard, have taken matters into their own hands. They stand for the families of the fallen, they raise funds for disabled veterans and their families, and they do so for one simple reason.
They support the troops.

Follow the link and read the entire article. It begins by acknowledging that this administration has pretty well turned its back on the fallen, living and dead, moves to the behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church, and then delivers us to the hope that is the Patriot Guard Riders. Although I am angry at Bush and the WBC, I find that the story of the Guard is such that it inspires both admiration and hope in my heart. I was unable to read it with dry eyes.


J said...

Wow...amazing stuff. I'm so glad that these people are coming together to TRULY support the troops.

Autumn's Mom said...

I'm glad you posted this. We need little nuggests of goodness in this otherwise depressing state of things.

Betty said...

It is outrageous that the Bush Administration has remained silent about the WBC. At least, the Patriot Guard has decided to fight fire with fire, without a hidden agenda.

Gina said...

You know, I read somewhere in the LA Times about a miliary mother who objected to these guys at her son's funeral. She resented their presence and said she never asked for them to "invade" the funeral as I think she phrased it.

But, she sounded like a minority and perhaps it was just her grief speaking.

Maya's Granny said...

Gina, That is confusing to me since these guys supposedly only come to a funeral if they have been invited by the family -- perhaps someone other than the mother invited them? The other thing is that they will come whenever invited, but it has mostly been that they are invited when the Westboro Baptist Church are intending to demonstrate, which apparently they always announce because they are so into the publicity. If someone was coming to a funeral in my family intending to yell at us that our loved one had died in vain and because the country was tolerating gay people, I'd be so glad someone was willing to come and guard me from them!

I wonder if that mother was referring to the WBC invading? Well, there is something I don't understand.

Computer Tutor said...

It's that old idea that "...bad things happen when good people do nothing..." It's a vocal minority that gets the attention of the vaunted media. What do we do? I keep reminding my children that they are soon in charge of this world.