OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — When military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans are laid to rest, family and friends if still around are there to say good-bye. One group of riders that although strangers to the deceased, show up whenever asked to honor their memory.
They are called the Patriot Guard Riders. Their motto: standing for those who stood for us.
As they honor our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, neighbors and friends, sometimes they ride just a few miles.
Sometimes hundreds of miles are traveled by the Patriot Guard Riders to say a proper farewell and honor our veterans, police officers and firefighters - heroes they have never met, but want to honor.
"Just this past Sunday, the brother-in-law of one of our heroes approached me and said, 'We just hoped that someone would be there,'" said Mike Hendrick, the group's road captain. "There was 50 of us. They were quite pleased; it means an awful lot to the family."
And he says, that's why they do it, for the families.
"It's a matter of respect, appreciation and gratitude for the people who have served our country, especially at this time when there are so many people who are struggling to understand the concept of patriotism," said J.D., a member of the guard.
They say they are not a club, but a communication group. There are no meetings, no dues collected, no parades or marches.
There's just showing up to pay tribute to those deserving men and women that sacrificed and gave their all, paying the ultimate price.
"A soldier dies twice, once when he takes his last breath and again when he is forgotten," Hendrick said. "We can't do anything about the former, but we can start to do something about the latter, we can make sure they are not forgotten now or ever."
Patriot Guard riders also help with troop send-offs, welcome homes and assisting wounded veterans in need.