So…. today was another PGR mission. This one being close to my home and on Veterans Day, I didn’t want to miss it even though it was supposed to be cool and rain. It certainly rained. Each one of these missions has an emotional aspect, as well as a certain degree of education. There were quite a few moments of note today. Sharyn wanted to attend one of the missions to see if it was something she wants to do. So, she met up with me not far from my home. She had hit rain on the way here and needed to get her raingear on; which made us arrive later than intended, but still in time to make the staging area. We headed for the funeral home and set up to stand honor guard. We had about 30 motorcycles (some 2-up) and people in 6 or 8 support vehicles.
This time, each soldier that was there walked down the row and shook each person’s hand, thanking us for our support. One particularly emotional moment was when the young son (perhaps 4 years old) of the fallen soldier walked down the row wanting to know each of our names and shaking our hands. That was tough. One of the honorable moments was when we noticed that townsfolk were starting to gather, with their own flags and umbrellas. As we rode the escort to the funeral home, there were many, many people in Follansbee who stood along the route to honor this soldier. The local fire department hoisted a flag on the bucket of one of their ladder trucks. It was nice to see the town support not only the soldier, but to join in what we try to do to support the soldiers.
Along the route to the cemetary, we passed through Eldersville, PA, where a “Christmas In The Village” Festival was taking place. The people there, likewise, stopped their festivities and gave their attention to our procession. Some stood silent. Some clapped. Some stood at attention or with their hands over their hearts. Some saluted. It was good to see.
During the day, many people thanked us for our support. One personal moment that stands out for me was when the mother wanted to thank us for attending. She walked to me as I was getting ready to head for home. She hugged me for what seemed like several minutes, and said, “Thank you,” and said, “He would have loved it. He would have been grinning from ear to ear.”Those kinds of moments — and that like the young son — are very difficult. But, I would do it again in a moment.