Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

To be a member of the United States military is a gift, a sacrifice and it is an honor. 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.”

Every day our warriors risk their lives, and today I would like to pay tribute to a special group of at home warriors who stand for those fallen heroes who stood for us. They are known as the Patriot Guard Riders.

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 of the rider’s missions have 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 caused by protesters. They have the patriotic understanding that each of America’s fallen heroes deserves respect.

Decked out in leather, wearing shades and bandanas, waving Old Glory and riding 500-plus pounds of steel, the Patriot Guard Riders are a terrifying but inspiring looking bunch. They have nicknames like Bronco, Dark Horse, Puddles and Wild Bill. They are right-thinking Americans with big hearts.

The Guard is activated each time the military reports the death of a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. This nationwide organization of volunteers is very efficient. State captains send out emails 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 a retired deputy state captain and Road Guard 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.