So we’re a week away from Rolling Thunder XXV, and I’m reminder by recent news articles just how important it still remains that every year we highlight the issue of MIA/POWs. Whilst the Vietnam War is still a big presence hovering over the event, the MIA/POW situation is still important because there is at least one live soldier who is not yet home - Bowe Bergdahl.
I was discussing Veteran’s issues and the like with a friend on Google Talk the other evening, and the conversation got around to regalia. In the context of the conversation, it was in regards to my regalia I wear to Powwows, and the significance behind it, the story it tells in how it appears. Thinking about the way riders would decorate their ponies in olden times gave me the idea to extend the regalia, and my story, to the Tank itself.
Poetry is not my strong suit, but on the way home from Rolling Thunder in 2006, I kept having words turning and in the end let them have free reign to come out.
When I originally wrote this, a friend who wrote for a biker magazine on the West Coast suggested it be submitted, and it was accepted and published that same year.
I apologize the poetic style isn’t what you’d consider very good – but not for the words and what they mean.
Wreaths Across America took place this morning, at Arlington National Cemetery just outside DC, and at locations across the US, and overseas.
This was the 18th year the Worchester Wreath Company has provided the wreaths, brought in by 18-wheelers all the way down from Maine, provided by themselves and through donations from many many others.
It’s hard to describe the event – it seems so simple, it went flawlessly, but there’s so much behind everything that words aren’t really adequate.
This coming Saturday morning, December 12th, several thousand people won’t be home in the warm, cuddled up in their beds all comfy and toasty.
Instead, they’ll have made their way early that morning to Arlington National Cemetery, as well as other locations spread out across the United States, Iraq, and other foreign locations.
This will see the final phase of the annual Wreaths Across America project to completion for the 18th year.
The trucks, carrying over 150,000 donated wreaths, are in transit as I write this entry, escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders, and many others – organizations and individuals.
It is said that the measure of a man is not so much by his deeds in life, but by how he is seen after he dies.
If that is true, Petty Officer Harris must have been a man I should regret never having met.
The Washington Post ran a story, back on September 3rd 2008, in which PO Harris’ mother described him as a “Renaissance Man”. I never knew him, but if the ~400 people in attendance at his funeral today at Arlington National Cemetery are anything to go by, he was that and more.
It’s been a while since I was able to go on a PGR Mission, but thankfully circumstances have conspired to make them possible again.
Today, with the family’s permission, we were able to escort them to Arlington National Cemetery to lay to rest Specialist Michael Gonzalez.
Specialist Gonzalez hailed from Spotswood, New Jersey, and was assigned to the 340th Military Police Company in Baghdad. On August 28th 2008, he was killed by an improvised explosive device.
The first parts of the mission were carried out by PGR members in New Jersey itself. Four of them also escorted Specialist Gonzalez, his family and friends, to ANC today, driving all the way down.