The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) is a motorcycle club whose members attend the funerals of United States Armed Forces members, Firefighters, and Law Enforcement Members often at the invitation of the deceased’s family in an effort to shelter and protect the fallens family against protesters from a controversial Baptist Church from Westboro, Kansas, who claim the deaths of American Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are “divine retribution for American tolerance of homosexuality”. Patriot Guard Riders members position themselves to physically shield the mourners from the presence of the Baptist Church protesters by blocking the protesters from view by creating a wall with their motorcade, and having members hold American flags. The group also drowns out the protesters’ chants by singing patriotic songs or by revving motorcycle engines.
The group’s mission quickly expanded to include the funerals of law enforcement officers, fire department personnel, all first responders, and any active duty member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces from all previous wars and conflicts and is now largely focused on recognizing and honoring the sacrifices of fallen service members as well as their families and loved ones.
“Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives:
- Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities.
- Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.
We accomplish the latter through strictly legal and non-violent means.”
With over a quarter-million members and that number climbing everyday, The Patriot Guard Riders will not go silently into the night. In addition to their attendance at funerals, the PG Riders also greet troops returning from overseas at welcome home celebrations, deployment ceremonies, and also perform volunteer work for veteran’s organizations such as Veterans Homes. The Patriot Guard Riders also assists families with financial difficulties secure travel and housing arrangements, and also visit military hospitals to encourage and honor wounded service members of the United States Armed Forces.