When I last left you I thought this article would be about how we pulled off the surprise party for Vickie. Instead it is bittersweet- Yes; we did have a nice party for Vickie and had some good family time. Then we got the call about Chad Marsh being killed in action in Iraq. Chad was our cousin and about 3 weeks older than Jeff. I got home as quick as I could when I found out that the service would be on Monday.
Bittersweet- Yes, it was a terrible thing to lose Chad and there will be a hole in all of our hearts- but when we saw and experienced the love and patriotism that our country, state, county, and city has shown our families we were in awe. The sound of the Patriot Guard coming was eerie and a seeing them ride into the cemetery in formation and almost every bike had a flag attached to it. It was welcomed sight and we knew that our family had made the trip safely. All of the flags and the people holding the red, white and blue waving in the breeze at the cemetery was a beautiful scene. And when the family gathered around the open grave and the flags came in from all sides it made me feel safe and protected, a feeling that some people in this world have never felt.
Vickie and Randy went to the service in Wichita. Vickie said she cried from Harper to Coldwater. Randy had the honor of riding his Harley in the Patriot Guard so she was by herself in the truck. Not only was her heart breaking for Janet and family, but when she saw the streets lined with the young and old alike waving their flags or their ball caps placed respectfully over their hearts in every town between Wichita and Coldwater touched her. Little old men that could hardly stand - stood as straight as they could with the look of reverence. Little old ladies, humped over in their wheelchairs waving their little flags. Small children looking somber and waving their small flags was just a little more than she could take. Farmers stopping along the road holding their ball caps, or cowboy hats, over their hearts while the funeral procession went by - brought back memories of Dad and his love for his country. And when she arrived in Coldwater and saw what her home town had done and all of the work everyone had done she was astonished.
Bittersweet- Yes, the protesters did show up at the service in Wichita. But because of the Patriot Guard and owners of adjoining property would not allow them to spread their poison. For this again, it makes me proud to be an American.
When Randy was being briefed on what to do when riding with the Patriot Guard they asked him, “When someone asks you how many missions have you been on, what will you say?”. Randy replied, ‘this is my first one, so it would be one”. They said, “No, - you say too many”. And that is true, one is too many- too many indeed.