Madam Speaker, Theodore Roosevelt said: "No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause." The Patriot Guard Riders are a group of motorcyclists who pay tribute to those who have died serving our country. Their mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen soldiers upholding President Roosevelt's belief that brave soldiers who gave the utmost sacrifice for their country deserve respect and reverence during their final tribute.
Each mission has two objectives, to show sincere respect for America's fallen heroes, their families, and their communities; and to shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors. In 2 short years, the Patriot Guard Riders has become a 501(c)(3) charity, comprised of more than 140,000 volunteers across the country that take off from work and use their own funds for gas and whatever else is needed to attend missions.
The Guard is activated each time the military reports the death of a soldier in Iraq. This nationwide organization of volunteers is very efficient. State Captains send out e-mails to members in the city where the soldier will be buried, and everyone jumps into action. They ensure that streets along the funeral procession are lined with American flags. Each mission is accomplished through legal and non-violent means. If protestors are present and become loud, the Patriot Guard Riders form a flag line, turn their backs on protesters, and will even drown the sound of the protestors by singing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
One involved Patriot biker, Rich "Boomer" Ford, a former Navy SEAL who served in Vietnam is the State Captain for the Texas Patriot Guard Riders. He is the man in charge of the "missions." If you ask Boomer why he rides, he will tell you that he remembers the lack of respect received when returning home from Vietnam. He wants to make sure that doesn't happen to these brave men and women. Boomer feels that each mission recognizes and honors the hard work our soldiers are doing for us overseas. These men and women like Boomer, who volunteer their time to help guard our nation's heroes should be forever remembered for their honor and dignity.
I commend the Patriot Guard Riders for riding for our soldiers whose lives were given in pursuit of a great cause, American freedom. I am proud to recognize these angels on bikes with hearts bigger than Texas. They show their respect for our troops, their families, and our community in an honorable way, one funeral at a time. They make a difference and represent all that is right and good in America.
And that's just the way it is.