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Funerals are not the place to protest

GO Representative for SPC Myers' funeral (UNCLASSIFIED)
From: Warner, Volney BG CGSC CMD GRP
Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 6:02 PM
To: Subject: RE: GO Representative for SPC Myers' funeral (UNCLASSIFIED)

Many thanks to all of you who made this event special. It is always difficult but is the most important thing we can do for a deserving family.
Below is my account.

The support from all corners was extraordinary. Casualty and survivor assistance to the family was well done and much appreciated. The ceremony was a celebration of a young man. His scout leader and youth minister talked of his faith and his desire to one day be a soldier. His High School Junior ROTC leaders spoke of his commitment,leadership and abilities. His comrades in arms spoke of his leadership. The Army family was evident. His grieving widow was flanked by an NCO sent to represent the platoon, the parents of the company commander and the parents and siblings of his buddy in theater. They sent a Video of the Unit Memorial Ceremony in Iraq. That young soldier called to the ceremony to ask his Dad to make sure the tribute was appropriate. It was. Four soldiers from his previous unit in the 82nd were there to aid the family and to grieve with them. In short, leaders around the Army recognized the importance of a proper tribute to a fallen soldier. His widow expressed unfathomable heartbreak at loss she and two young children would bear. But she reported that her husband died with people he loved, doing what he loved. Soldiering was what he always wanted.

There were two unusual groups present. First was a protest group who had publicly announced their intent to be at the ceremony. Second was an uninvited motorcycle group. When I arrived an hour before the ceremony I noticed 25 Harley Davidson motorcycles lined up in the corner of the parking lot and 30 appropriately attired riders engaged in idle conversation with the local police. About that time a group of protesters arrived and began to deploy along the street. Amazingly, the motorcyclists moved as one to become their black leather shadows. I went inside to the ceremony. The ceremony was a fitting tribute to a great soldier but I confess to worrying what we might find outside.

When we emerged there were no protesters. As the funeral procession departed, we passed between two lines of leather clad cyclist at rigid attention and present arms, or with hands over their hearts. There were more than a few tearing eyes. They quietly mounted their motorcycles and followed the procession to Leavenworth Veteran Cemetery, where they stood solemn watch over rendering of full military honors. Afterward,I thanked one of their leaders. There was no violence, but the presence of these men spoke volumes about respect and honor. Their presence was both powerful and to some, I'm sure, intimidating. The leader's comment to me: "its an honor sir. Call us any time. Sometimes we can do things that the police can't."

Indeed. They were the combat veteran's cycle club of St Joe Missouri.

God Bless.
Jim Warner

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Last Updated: August 31, 2005

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