7/10/11 UPDATE …
I was mistaken as to the name of the group who were there to welcome the vet home from Afghanistan. They are the Warriors Watch Riders. Please see the very nice comment below for more information.
Seriously. Can you believe we’re 190 days in to this year? Unbelievable.
Okay, normally this space is reserved for my daily ramblings, updates on how I’m doing or information about medical procedures. Tonight I’m going to tell you about an unexpected and amazing act of patriotism to which we were witness this afternoon. Patriotism gets a bad rap. The news often reports on yahoos and These Colors Don’t Run has become a jingoistic battle cry but the truth is, the honest to God patriotic folks are the everyday people who live quiet lives and who believe in a better tomorrow for all. Our freedom is protected daily by ordinary folks who volunteer to go fight in wars far away from home for very little money and even less glory.
All that said to tell you this story. We were witness to the most amazing thing this afternoon, in of all places Don Pablo’s parking lot. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. It’s moments like these and people like these that restore my faith in humanity.
This afternoon we stopped at Don Pablo’s for a quick meal. I’m so glad I asked for a table by the window because we’d have never noticed the dozens of motorcycles that rode up carrying American flags. We couldn’t imagine what was going on. I thought I was seeing things for a minute. Was this some sort of protest? There are a lot of things to protest about Don Pablo’s including the food, but I digress. I was pretty sure the bikers weren’t there to protest less-than-stellar Mexican food.
Our car was blocked in by the bikes but we decided to head out to see what the hubbub was about. On our way out I stopped a manager who told me they were Freedom Riders there to welcome home a vet who’d just arrived home from Afghanistan yesterday. We made our way out and I thanked the first rider. I told him this is a nice thing you’re doing, my dad’s a vet. Thank you. He said welcome him home for us. I didn’t quite understand but Chuck asked if he was still here and sure enough he was. Another rider informed us that he was getting his car.
We kept walking to our car and another rider asked if we were okay with waiting a few minutes. Of course we were. I wish dad had been with us he’d have loved this. We stood by as the vet’s car passed us and the bikes all fell in line before and after his and another vehicle. The bikes all honked their horns and we and another couple who stood there with us clapped.
I was choked up and teary-eyed standing there as I am now. Much as we like to think we’re not like our parents, we are. I’m so fortunate to have been raised by parents who lived through WWII. Dad’s a Korean War veteran (he served in Germany during the Korean War) and is the most patriotic person you’ll ever meet. I guess it rubbed off on me because corny as it sounds I still think an American flag waving in the wind against a bright blue sky is a beautiful sight and this amazing act of patriotism moved me beyond words. I think the restaurant manager missed an opportunity. Were it me I’d have gone from table to table explaining to diners what was going on and encouraged them to go outside and add to the cheering section for the recently returned vet, but that’s just me.
When I got home I looked up Freedom Riders online but I think the manager was mistaken I think these amazing folks are actually Patriot Guard Riders. 7/10/11 Update — A nice man from the Warriors Watch Riders contacted me in the comments below. The Welcome Home folks I met yesterday are actually the Warriors Watch Riders. See the comment below for more information.