Monday, August 06, 2012

Fallen Heroes Memorial Ride

Today is the one year anniversary of the loss of 31 troops in a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan last August. There were Navy Seals on board, plus support crew, and even a military-trained dog, and all lost their lives  as their helo was shot down by Taliban. It was the single largest loss of troops since the war began after 9/11.

And heartbreaking.

This one was particularly personal. These were my kids' friends.

On Saturday, I attended a memorial motorcycle ride to honor the fallen heroes of August 6, 2011. There were at least a thousand motorcycles that took part in the 23 mile, police-escorted ride to the oceanfront. I didn't ride, but my husband and daughter did.  I just loved being part of the crowd.

Daughter and Daddy.

At least half the thrill of an event like this is seeing who else shows up.

I will share some of my favorite shirts and vests. They each tell a story.

The Patriot Guard are the people you see on CNN who ride in military funerals to protect the bereaved families from extremists and pseudo-religious protesters. 

I expected to see the soldiers who lost their friends, and the widows and the children of the fallen and people like me. I didn't expect to see so many different ages, races, creeds, and motorcycles in one place! It was awesome! There were at least a thousand motorcycles there. Let your Harley roar!

There were a number of Christian motorcycle clubs. Not your typical Sunday pew sitters.

The Vision Riders. Loved it.

This one is a flag with all the  names of the fallen written on the stripes. 

This guy is a veteran of other memorial rides. 

This one specifically honors Kevin Houston, one of the fallen. The Navy Seal motto is "Long Live the Brotherhood", the words on the shirt.

Here a veteran proudly displays his service to his country.

This one specifically honors the SEALs who gave their lives. Absolute heroes.  

This was one of my favorites. Such colorful embroidery. The words say, "Never forgotten"

This gal was a vet, and  though most of the women rode on back of bikes, there was a good crowd of cute biker chicks who rode their own bikes. 

This was another favorite.  A Jewish motorcycle club called 'Guns and Moses"! 

The fallen were honored by two members of the Boston Police Department Bagpipe Column. They were dressed in full regalia to play their bagpipes for the exit of the  entire stream of riders. The Navy SEALs have forged a bond with first responders in NYC and in Boston. They have shared the burden of the losses of 9/11. These guys were pretty cool.

They played the entire time as the two mile long motorcycle caravan left. There are few things as stirring as listening to "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes. The 31 flags in the ground next to them represent the fallen. 

The Navy color guard lined the exit of the shopping center. Before the ride began, they were washing naval officers'cars in the parking lot. Making good use of their time. 

My daughter JoAnne and her friend Julie rode side by side the whole 23 miles.
Both of their husbands lost dear friends last year. 

JoAnne rode with her dad. Look at the long line of motorcycles behind them. The police blocked every intersection for 23 miles so they could pass through. My husband loved being able to run the red lights with impunity for the first time in his life. 

One of the last to leave, this patriotic woman was part of the color guard. She has the names of each of the fallen Navy SEALs attached to her vest. 

Along with many others who have given all. 

Joe and JoAnne head out for the ride, with their buddies by their sides. It was such a memorable day, being there, watching the crowd. I was part of a grateful nation paying homage.

The proceeds from the event will help these families as they forge a new life without their beloved and heroic husbands and fathers. 
"Long Live the Brotherhood"


Leslie said...

I remember that day vividly. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute to the heros who sacrificed theirs lives for our country.

Saying a special prayer today.

Bless you, your family, and all the families and friends of those lost, but never forgotten.

I am certain they are all angels watching over the many people they love.

karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. I've never seen such a thing, and it's wonderful to know about it. I especially love the names in beads on the woman's vest - creative and crafty, as well as a sentimental and original way to honor those precious heroes.

I still can't wrap my mind around the losses your community has suffered. Life is not fair, but God is faithful and He is Love. I am clinging to that!

Anonymous said...

WOW. Had to believe it has been a year already! The whole event looks amazing. xoxoSharon

Anonymous said...

By way of complete randomness my husband came across your blog. He told me about it and he found it because as he was Googling something else, he was in the images and saw a familiar vest and when he looked closer, saw it was a photo of me. I just want to first say how sorry I am for the loss of your son. I cannot imagine the grief and heartbreak. I was at the Extortion ride because my husband worked with the men who died Aug 6th and I am in touch with one of the moms often. I can't give much more detail on that publicly but wanted to share that the amount of people who showed up to honor and remember these Heroes was humbling and just amazing. To think that so many people cared about the men and their families, it was just incredible. The community is one of a kind and to see everyone there...words really can't express it. Thank you for being there, it meant a lot to a lot of people.

As a side note, I wanted to mention that I am not a Veteran (although I would be very proud to be one). I'm married to a Navy man who is member of the US Military Vets MC but have not served myself. I don't know if editing the photo captions is possible but I'd rather let you know so I don't offend anyone who may happen upon my photo. :) Thank you for my 15 minutes in the spotlight!

I hope that you are finding healing and comfort in the words of God (if you look at my helmet you'll notice a FORGIVEN sticker) and in the time that passes. I know your pain will never completely go away but I pray that it lessens and you are able to smile more often than the tears that may come.

- Kate I.