rewarding day. Left the trailer around 7:30 am this morning and arrived back at 5:00 pm. It was for a Patriot Guard ride to honor Specialist Eddie Tamez, KIA April 27, 2007.
Once again, there was a huge turnout of riders to honor this fallen hero. I’ve stopped trying to count the number of bikes but this one was well over 200, with more than 50 flags. It is an incredible sight to see, turning into a cemetary and seeing 150+ Americans of all colors holding Old Glory in honor of a fallen soldier.
Around 30 of us met early this morning to escort the family to the funeral home. I went with one group to the parent’s home, the other went to his widow’s home. This was an emotional day for the family, one of the more emotional that I’ve seen. The mother didn’t want her son to join the Army and didn’t want him to re-enlist. That must be really, really hard.
The ride from the funeral home to the church was very short, perhaps less than a mile. It is always a time to reflect when the honor guard moves the casket into the church and back again to the hearse. Many tears were shed.
The ride to the cemetary was, once again, filled with tears of joy. Yes, I know that sounds strange but if you think about what we hear and read daily about the war, our role in it, our desertion of innocent Iraqis, Americans overwhelmingly favoring a pullout, it is so inspiring to see Americans, ordinary, everyday citizens, line the streets to honor a fallen soldier.
We had a huge police escort, Galveston PD really stood tall today. As well as the Galveston County Sheriffs and Galveston Fire Department. The ride was filled with memorable moments. Stores closing, employees and customers alike coming out to honor Specialist Tamez. People coming out on their balconies to honor him. People getting out of their cars on the seawall to honor him. The Fire Dept placing two ladder trucks so that they covered Seawall Blvd, displaying a post size American Flag.
One memory will be forever etched into my mind. As we left the church, only a couple of blocks into the procession, an elderly black man on a bicycle stepped down from his bicycle, kneeled and started praying. For me, his action is the quintessential action that a Christian can do today. Stop what you are doing and pray that God’s will be done. I will never forget that man and will honor him in my own prayers.
I mentioned that the mother was having a very hard time understanding this loss. I can’t even imagine how that feels, to lose a child at any age, much less before he turned 21. I hope that she reaches out to Maria and Scott, both of whom attended today, both of whom have lost a child in this war.
I finally introduced myself to Scott, father of Nathan Given. I’ve pretty much avoided him because I feel so small next to a man that had such grace in his loss and is helping other mothers and fathers deal with their loss. But I finally had the nerve to say hello and tell him who I was and thank him, as best I could before tears streamed down my face. He was so gracious, so inspiring.
I asked how his wife was doing and he said that they lean on each other, helping each other to find their way through this. As I watched him receive the first issue of the Patriot Guard gold coin today, my heart was both broken and overjoyed. Broken for the loss of a son, for the heartbreak that he has. Overjoyed at the example he is setting for others, at the display of grace that shines through him. As I lead our men through a series of spiritual growth lessons, I can point to Scott Given as an example of God’s love.
Father, bless this man, for he has blessed me.