Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Not just any parade

I've been neglecting my blog recently. I just couldn't find the time to sit down and put together a string a thoughts that made any sense.
With my social calender full,the home repairs I'm behind on and a round of golf have kept me pretty busy, and, oh yeah, the parade I was in.

Doesn't everyone ride down a police escorted parade route now and again? I did.

I mentioned in a previous post that my daughters fiance Jim, came home from Afghanistan a few weeks ago. His parents informed us that they were going to throw a welcome home party, complete with a parade through his hometown in Pennsylvania.
I thought this sounded pretty interesting, even though I had no idea what to expect.

As I overheard various conversations about this, I surmised there was going to be an escort of some kind, complete with fire trucks. Who doesn't like a parade with fire trucks involved?

My daughter, Jim, his parents and my wife and I synchronized our watches and agreed to meet at a specified time. We then made the ride to their local fire house where the parade would begin.
Have I mentioned that Jim hated every aspect of this plan?
He did. Jim isn't a parade kind of guy.
But he did spend the last 7 months, waking up with a weapon by his side,with people shooting at him, so his parents thought he deserved a parade. I agreed.
The fact that he was dreading every moment of this event just made it more....entertaining.

I didn't know what to expect. I was thinking, ok, maybe a fire truck a cop car and a flag or two and that would be that.

What I witnessed this day was a very interesting and impressive form of patriotism.
When we pulled into the fire house parking lot, we were met with 2 local TV news stations, an antique fire truck that Jim would be sitting in to lead the parade, a half dozen other fire trucks, the State and local police and about 25 to 30 bikers, dressed in their "colors" holding American flags.
My jaw dropped.

The bikers are part of a very impressive group called "Warriors Watch Riders." What they do is, upon request, help welcome home American Military personel.
And it is beyond impressive.

Most of these riders are Vietnam and Cold War veterans who go out of their way to welcome home these men and women.They all approached Jim in the parking lot, shook his hand and welcomed him home.
Most of them have Harley Davidson motorcycles.

The parade route was maybe 8 miles long. The sight and sounds of the fire trucks, followed by 25 very cool sounding bikes,followed by news vans, followed by various cars like ours with more fire trucks bringing up the rear....very very cool.
Each intersection was blocked by local and State police.Pedestrians here and there waved and yelled.
The show was on....and it was very impressive.

Upon entering the street Jim lives on, the parade traveled under 2 big ladder fire trucks that had their ladders extended over the road, draped with an American flag.
If you didn't get goose bumps watching this, your just not alive.

Upon arriving at the house, the TV news cameras came out for interviews and the "Warriors Watch Riders" parked their bikes, mingling with everyone on the front lawn.
The leader of the Riders officially welcomed Jim home presenting him with a plaque and saying a few words. Many of the bikers again got a chance to shake Jims hand and whisper words in his ear. Words shared only between people who share a common experience, one I could never understand.

I can't begin to tell you how impressive these people, the Warriors Watch Riders, are.
What blows me away is this group is mostly made up of Vietnam Vets, and if you are over the age of 50, you remember the despicable treatment they received upon their return from fighting for our county.
Talk about turning a negative into a positive!

I'll let excerpts of their mission statement describe what they are about.

Many of us are bikers: we use our motorcycles to draw attention to our cause, which is our troops.
Many of us are veterans: We will support the mission of our uniformed brothers and sisters.
All of us are Americans: We will honor our nations warriors at home and support their families while they fight for us abroad.
Many of us are Vietnam Veterans: Never ever will we allow this generation of heros to be treated, when they come home, as we were treated when we came home. Never again will they be scorned or ignored.

Their mission and vision statement is on their web site, it's worth checking out.

Whatever your thoughts are of war, these guys should be honored.
The Warriors Watch Riders do just that.

It was a great day.

Jim and my daughter Bryn


cschneider said...

Wow! What an amazing story you have shared. Thank you. :)

Karen said...

Ooh, I love this post, Mark. I've got goosebumps just reading it.

How awesome it is when people come together in this way to honor each other. Why can't we live with that sentiment among us always, on an ordinary day.

Good luck and a happy future to your daughter and future SIL.

Vicky said...

Mark, this is AWESOME! Your photos are great and I am so thrilled to see a celebration of that magnitude, for service of that magnitude. You must have been so proud of your future son-in-law and even though he was reluctant, I hope he knows how grateful we are for his service. Thanks for sharing!

Megan said...

way cool!

beth said...

this is so amazing.....and YES, he deserved a parade !!!

those bikers....WOW, do i love them and what they do!!

thanks for sharing this mark !!!

Janney said...

that's awesome... it sucks how the vets were treated... so cool to see what they have done...

dcpeg said...

Oh wow! All that for one returning warrior -- how different from when our boys came home from VN. HURRAY! You all must be so relieved! Hope he doesn't have to go back out again.

I'll bet those bikers will be here in a few weeks for the annual Veterans Day Rolling Thunder ride. If you've never experienced it . . . well all I can say is it's unforgettable.

slommler said...

How awesome and incredible is that? Wow!!! And those to and wanting to welcome home fellow comrades in arms. Astounding! They were treated so shamefully when they returned home. It made me cry and be mad all at the same time. Now they get to welcome home those who have served with respect and honor. And in return they receive respect and honor. It is a win, win!
Lovely photos and what a special day for him!!
Thanks so much for sharing this

Lydia said...

Thanks for sharing that, Mark. I was moved to see the outpouring of support for a much deserving man. Welcome home. Also, what a great group of guys to take such hardship and turn it into an equally great support.

Barefoot from Heaven said...

Holy smokes I've got goosbumps (we call it, kippenvel) Thanks for taking us along into the story. Now I'll check out the site of the warriors.
Hope your daughter and Jim will be fine now they are together again.
Hugs D.

Jerral Miles said...

Wow! I have a whole new way of thinking about these guys when they roar past me on the freeway. Thanks.