© 2016 MARY PARKS

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One last honor

April 27, 2016

Over the past year we had the distinct honor of meeting veterans from across southern California.  Some served in Vietnam, others defended the United States during WW II, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.  What they each had in common though was their sense of family, brotherhood and sisterhood they called it, for recognizing one another's service to our country.  We met these veterans in the most unlikely place, Riverside National Cemetery.  They were the Patriot Guard Riders, meeting each Wednesday morning to provide full military honors to veterans who otherwise might be laid to rest unrecognized.  Some have become estranged from family, others have simply outlived relatives or for various reasons became homeless.  Whatever the reason the PGR became the "family" those fallen military members didn't have.  You just had to share a love of country and respect for our veterans.  We couldn't help but shed a few tears as we watched the PGR provide prayers, reading of names, kinds words and a 21 gun salute.  Taps on the harmonica is what got me, sent chills up my spine.  One of our visits happened to be on Christmas Eve, totally cool to see a big burly-biker-veteran ride up wearing a Santa suit and hat.  That day six veterans were laid to rest with the most colorful, honorable, flag-waving ceremony we've ever seen. The next time you have a few hours free on a Wednesday morning you should join the PGR at Riverside National Cemetery.  Puts things in perspective in so many ways.

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