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this is a post i recently made...wanted to share it because it was such a meaningful experience to me.
July 5, 2012
Not since the overwhelming patriotism seen following 9/11 have I been witness to such a display of pride in our country and respect for those who serve to protect us, as I was on Friday June 22, 2012. On this day we buried a young man named Nathan Tyler Davis. I did not know him or his family, yet I was there. It was the right thing to do.
The day started with me planning out all my chores and errands that needed to be completed. As always I checked my face book for messages. I saw a post that said that the funeral for Tyler would be held that day. I had read about him in the newspaper that morning. He died in Afghanistan after the vehicle he rode in ran over an IED and blew up. He was 20 years old. It also stated that (unfortunately) a well known church group from the Midwest was planning to protest that funeral. Why, you may be wondering? Simply because he was a soldier. That is all. These people thought it was appropriate to show up and ruin a church service and funeral for a grieving family who lost their son while he was protecting others. I disagreed.
I changed my clothes to red, white and blue as requested in the post and got in my car and headed to the city of his funeral, about 30 minutes away, not knowing what to expect. I thought to myself ‘there is NOTHING more important for me to do today than to be there’ and support this young man’s family in any way I could. As it turned out, it was a humbling and overwhelmingly emotional experience.
As I drove along the street where the church was, I saw flags hanging from every mailbox. I saw car after car parked along the curb. Then I came up to the church and was shocked. There had to be hundreds of motorcycles lines up side by side the whole length of the sidewalk in front of the church! These were your typical biker ‘gangs’ standing there together in agreement to put aside their animosity for each other to band together and form a ‘patriot guard’. old and young, men and women, they came, wearing their club colors and leather jackets. Across the street from them, were hundreds of people milling about holding flags and signs of respect for Tyler. TV cameras were in abundance. There were a few people that gave off a vibe that they might be part of the protesting church, but aside from that we saw no evidence that they were there.
A bit later, we heard the police asking people to get off the streets. We then heard the roar of motorcycles and saw emergency vehicles start to arrive. I didn’t understand, at first, but then I saw. Hundreds and hundreds (no lie!) of cycles were escorting the hearse into the church parking lot. In all, there were over 1000 motorcycles and cars, all representing not only their individual clubs, but veterans of previous military service. These bikers were actually thanking US for being there with them. Some signaled that they loved us and some gave the peace sign. Many had tears down their faces. Once the service started, we left the area to get lunch and then go stake out the route to the cemetery to be certain none of those protesters were there waiting. As it turned out, they were not. We waited in the heat for a few hours, along with hundreds of other people, all waving flags and shouting words of encouragement to each other. We watched a gigantic flag being raised for the hearse to drive under. We started to get reports that the procession was on the way. Finally, with another patriot guard escort, the hearse and family cars drove by us. As we were waving our flags and clapping in Tyler’s honor, the family members in the cars were using their cell phones to video all of us along the route. They were taping us!!! And we were taking their pictures as they passed by.
I can’t explain why it was so important to me to be there. But I can say this: it changed my life in ways I did not expect. I felt renewed in my faith in this country, proud to be an American. I learned that even if you don’t know anyone else, it is always good to do the right thing and stand up for what you believe. And I believed that this protest group had no right to impose their ideas on a grieving family. If my presence, along with many, many others, could influence them to turn around and go back where they came from, than what did it cost me to be there except my time. Tyler had no more time. Having a son in Afghanistan at this time, I thought about how I would feel if it were he that had passed away. I would hope that other people would want to show respect to him for his sacrifice of being in a war zone and at risk, for being willing to give his life.
These people do not represent the God that I know -- they do not speak of the Christianity that I have been taught about. I wanted to be there to counter their evil. And I thank God I had the freedom to do that. I have not felt this proud of my community-at-large and my fellow man in a long time. It was an inspiring and profound moment in my life.
So thank you, Nathan Tyler Davis. Thank you for being the brave soldier that you were. And thank you to your family. They must have raised you right -- it showed. thank you to all the members of the patriot guard and the biker clubs represented there. Thank you to all the strangers that showed up to do the right thing and stand up against an unjust group of obviously misguided people. It was a day I will not soon forget.
Was it Westbourgh church that was planning to protest? A local college did something similar when the church planned to protest. They made a human wall in their school colors and blocked the family from seeing them.