Veterans Day has come and gone. On that day, we honored military members both living and deceased. However, based on the ultimate sacrifice that they are willing to make, any day is a good day to honor military members and show respect for the service that they provide to this country. When one of those military members falls in the line of duty, it is especially important to show honor and respect for that service. Richard Eskew, a Community Food Inspector at the City Health Department, believes that so strongly, that he has taken on an additional responsibility…as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders.
The Patriot Guard Riders consists of more than 186,000 members nationwide. Some are military veterans, some are not. Some lean to the left and some lean to the right politically. Nearly all of them, like Eskew, are motorcycle aficionados. According to the Patriot Guard Riders webpage, what really binds them together is their "unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America's freedom and security." The Patriot Guard Riders use their motorcycle presence at military funerals for fallen soldiers to provide a non-violent response to misguided protests efforts and shield the grieving families.
When a military family receives word that their loved one has fallen in battle, it is devastating. When they receive word that the funeral may be targeted by protestors, that adds to their grief. The Patriot Guard Riders attend the funeral service as the guests of the military family. As a group, they not only honor the fallen heroes, their families, and their communities, but they keep protestors from interrupting the service. All of this is accomplished in a peaceful and respectful manner.
With freedom comes responsibility. Although Eskew is not a military veteran, he has a son who currently serves in the Air Force. He has taken to heart the responsibility to honor fallen military heroes with the respect their service demands. As a result, he joined the Patriot Guard Riders in 2007. To date, he has had the opportunity to participate in more military funeral services than he can count. According to Eskew, "it is an honor to be asked by the family to participate and show respect for our military personal."
As the year draws to an end, we anxiously anticipate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from conflicts around the world and the return of our military members. This quote from the Patriot Guard Riders webpage sums up the sentiments of many: "To those of you who are currently serving and fighting for the freedoms of others, at home and abroad, please know that we are backing you. We honor and support you with every mission we carry out, and we are praying for a safe return home for all."
If you would like to know more about the Patriot Guard Riders, please visit their website at: www.patriotguard.org .Health Department City of St. Louis
Department of Health