My Work With The Patriot Guard…
I am a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, and have attended and photographed many, many, missions and events since early 2006. The Patriot Guard is a nationwide organization, now over 120,000 strong. It was initially formed to provide, at the specific invitation of the families, a silent, visual barrier of American flags at the funeral services of Fallen military service members, between the family of the Fallen and the group of “church” idiots from Kansas who were showing up and protesting and spewing their vile hatred against homosexuals.
In attending all those missions, I have really focused on capturing, to the best of my abilities, the history that I have been so privelaged to witness. In doing so, I have been honored to be asked by several families of the Fallen for copies of my work in remembrance of their loved ones. As is everything related to the Patriot Guard, these services, prints, and files are completely free of charge.
I was a cop for eleven years, and served my community that way, but it is too late for me to join the military, and I would not have the great kids I do today if I had. I joined the PGR for a few reasons. I initially wanted to counter the hate that was being spewed against gays by the Kansas “church” idiots when they were showing up and desecrating military service members’ funerals. Thankfully, they have not shown to too many services around here, so we have turned our attention to honoring the Fallen soldiers and veterans, and welcoming home the ones that make it back.
The PGR motto sums it up- STANDING FOR THOSE WHO STOOD FOR US.
But with my camera, I have taken on a new personal mission- that of documenting a rare group of individuals who put aside their political beliefs and give their time and energy and sweat and tears to honor the Fallen.
Of course there have been groups in every conflict, including Vietnam, who were there to send care-packages and welcome home the troops, either living or dead. But I have met a few Vietnam vets in this group who never got a chocolate bar or a hand-shake, but were lucky enough to get spit on instead. This organization is historically unique in that its mission is to never let that happen again for the soldiers in today’s conflicts and the veterans passing on here at home. And trying to take the most beautiful, touching, historically representative photographs I can is the way I contribute. I want my kids and grandkids to be proud of what I do, proud of the people I associate with, and proud of the country we live in.
If you are at all interested in joining, please take a look at their website. The home page pretty much sums it up. Your politics are not important, and I am proof of that. Whether you ever served or would never personally serve is not important. What you ride or drive or the pogo stick or electric wheelchair you use to get to missions is not important. Your willingness to show up, shut up, and hold a flag is what is important. There are members in every state and several foreign countries.
A special note about the Patriot Guard pictures-
If you are a family or friend of the deceased, please note that I do have my own guidelines when I shoot at funerals. In order to respect your privacy, I avoid taking identifiable pictures of the family and friends, and the few pictures I do take with the casket or urn visible are password protected, and viewable only by my family. THOSE PICTURES WILL NEVER BE MADE PUBLIC. If you are a family member of the deceased, and want a copy of those pictures, I can be contacted through the PGR, via the state captain who was originally in contact with your family when you invited the PGR to attend the service. That way, your identity can be verified and those pictures would never end up in the wrong hands.