Tag Archives: Patriot Guard Riders

No Greater Love

I know I’ve already shared this song. I played it at church, yesterday, and then posted the video on Facebook this morning. However, I thought it would be good to re-post this piece, today, so that new readers might get the whole story.

Unfortunately, I learned just this week that Sgt. Sullivan’s grandmother (Brenda Sullivan, 70) passed away in June of last year, followed by his mother (Debbie Sullivan Beavers, 54) on July 5th.

First Fallen

john-michael-sullivanSeveral years ago, just after the second gulf conflict broke out, the town I was living in lost its first son. On December 30, 2006, Sgt. John Michael Sullivan was killed by a roadside bomb. Only 22, he left behind a wife and baby who was born the day after Sgt. Sullivan died.

I will never forget the visitation at the funeral home. Soldiers stood guard at each end of Sgt. Sullivan’s casket. One soldier was a West Point cadet. Every thirty minutes they would rotate out, similar to the way the guard is changed at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington. The honor and respect was palpable.

“Not Here”

Folks in the southern United States don’t take kindly to disrespect – especially at the funeral of a fallen soldier. Sgt. Sullivan died while taking a friend’s place on patrol, which made him a genuine hero. He was a local boy. So, when it was rumored that protesters from Westboro Baptist Church were going to be protesting, blood began to boil.

patriot guardStanding guard outside the funeral home, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, were motorcyclists (over 200 hundred of them) holding American flags. They lined the street and sidewalks as far as anyone could see. Each one, wearing leather vests,  seemed as tough as the Harleys they rode.

I won’t give names, but I heard a couple of high-ranking officials discussing the protesters. They knew Westboro’s hateful tactics and what typically went on at other funerals. So, in a whisper not meant to be overheard, one official said to another, “If those ———-‘s show up, just turn your back – let the guys outside handle them.”

Westboro never showed up. They must have gotten word.

More than Talk

Some people talk a big talk, but never walk the walk. Some people brag about what they would do in a given situation, such as combat, but never volunteer to prove it. But as Sgt. Sullivan lay there in his casket, no words were needed; his sacrifice proved his courage – and love.

Sgt. SullivanScripture says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Others may say they love their friends, but the silent soldier in front of me didn’t have to say a word.

As I paid my respects, it struck me how this young man had essentially given his life for me, a stranger. Like so many other men and women we remember on Memorial Day, Sgt. Sullivan willingly took another’s place. He did what we could not.

The emotion I felt that day led me to write a song in Sgt. Sullivan’s honor. But it also honors of the One who gave His life so that we could be eternally free.

Here is “No Greater Love” as sung by my daughter, Katie (we just recorded it on the iPhone, so forgive the low quality).

(Note: Unfortunately, when I wrote the song, I didn’t know Sgt. Sullivan was actually 22. However, his mother, after hearing the song, told me it was OK.).

Links

http://www.fallenheroesproject.org/united-states/john-michael-sullivan/
http://freedomremembered.com/index.php/sergeant-john-michael-sullivan/
http://www.stripes.com/news/unit-remembers-dedicated-soldier-who-was-killed-just-before-his-son-s-birth-1.58888

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No Greater Love

I have noticed that a lot of folks are already posting things about Memorial Day, so I thought I would go ahead and do the same.

The following post was first published last year, but it’s worth sharing once more. I’m even going to get Katie to sing the song tomorrow at church.

First Fallen

john-michael-sullivanSeveral years ago, just after the second gulf conflict broke out, the town I was living in lost its first son. On December 30, 2006, Sgt. John Michael Sullivan was killed by a roadside bomb. Only 22, he left behind a wife and baby who was born the day after Sgt. Sullivan died.

I will never forget the visitation at the funeral home. Soldiers stood guard at each end of Sgt. Sullivan’s casket. One soldier was a West Point cadet. Every thirty minutes they would rotate out, similar to the way the guard is changed at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington. The honor and respect was palpable.

“Not Here”

Folks in the southern United States don’t take kindly to disrespect – especially at the funeral of a fallen soldier. Sgt. Sullivan died while taking a friend’s place on patrol, which made him a genuine hero. He was a local boy. So, when it was rumored that protesters from Westboro Baptist Church were going to be protesting, blood began to boil.

patriot guardStanding guard outside the funeral home, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, were motorcyclists (over 200 hundred of them) holding American flags. They lined the street and sidewalks as far as anyone could see. Each one, wearing leather vests,  seemed as tough as the Harleys they rode.

I won’t give names, but I heard a couple of high-ranking officials discussing the protesters. They knew Westboro’s hateful tactics and what typically went on at other funerals. So, in a whisper not meant to be overheard, one official said to another, “If those ———-‘s show up, just turn your back – let the guys outside handle them.”

Westboro never showed up. They must have gotten word.

More than Talk

Some people talk a big talk, but never walk the walk. Some people brag about what they would do in a given situation, such as combat, but never volunteer to prove it. But as Sgt. Sullivan lay there in his casket, no words were needed; his sacrifice proved his courage – and love.

Sgt. SullivanScripture says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Others may say they love their friends, but the silent soldier in front of me didn’t have to say a word.

As I paid my respects, it struck me how this young man had essentially given his life for me, a stranger. Like so many other men and women we remember on Memorial Day, Sgt. Sullivan willingly took another’s place. He did what we could not.

The emotion I felt that day led me to write a song in Sgt. Sullivan’s honor. But it also honors of the One who gave His life so that we could be eternally free.

Here is “No Greater Love” as sung by my daughter, Katie (we just recorded it on the iPhone, so forgive the low quality).

(Note: Unfortunately, when I wrote the song, I didn’t know Sgt. Sullivan was actually 22. However, his mother, after hearing the song, told me it was OK.).

Links

http://www.fallenheroesproject.org/united-states/john-michael-sullivan/
http://freedomremembered.com/index.php/sergeant-john-michael-sullivan/
http://www.stripes.com/news/unit-remembers-dedicated-soldier-who-was-killed-just-before-his-son-s-birth-1.58888

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Free Speech? Oh, Pleeease!

If you haven’t heard by now, the Supreme Court has ruled 8-1 in favor of Westboro Baptist Church. The case involved whether or not the church had the right to picket and protest at the funerals of fallen soldiers. According to all but one of the judges, they do.

Judgment Day

Image by M.V. Jantzen via Flickr

They have the right to carry signs that read, “God Hates America,” “God Hate Fags,” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” to the streets surrounding funeral homes where brave sons and daughters lie. They have the right to carry their signs and bring their voices as close as they can to the funeral processions and cemeteries. They have the right to free speech, no matter if it is hurtful. Free Speech? Oh, Pleeease!

Amazing, isn’t it? Hurtful, hateful speech being allowed by the Supreme Court of the United States, yet students can’t post the Ten Commandments or pray for the safety of other students at ball games? Are they kidding? What about the guys in Detroit who were arrested for handing out Christian literature at an open-to-the-public Muslim event? What about all this talk about alienating Jews and Pagans from Christmas by putting up a manger scene – AT CHRISTMAS!!? – on public property?

OK, that’s fine. There is something else that can still be done.

Rolling Thunder and Patriot Guard Riders

Maybe you have never heard of them, but there are groups like Rolling Thunder and Patriot Guard Riders (I put a links at the bottom of the page.) These are the type of guys that need to be recruited to guard every soldier’s funeral.  I have seen them in action, too, and it works. Evidently, people in leather riding Harley’s intimidate loud-mouthed pseudo-Baptists. Who knew?

When the first soldier from our town died in this conflict, around two hundred bikers came and stood vigil. They made a barrier around the funeral home, each one holding an American Flag. They took turns and stayed until it was time to go to the cemetery. Nobody from ANY protest group dared show up. If they had, well…..

Every once in a while people need to make a stand for decency and honor. Every once in a while, Americans need to make a stand on behalf of those who serve and protect us. When it comes to the funeral of a fallen soldier, we should assert our right to peacefully assemble and protect mourning families from these heretics from Westboro Church.

John Wayne, from "The Green Berets"

Sometimes, however, I imagine, “what would John Wayne or George S. Patton have done?” I wonder what Buford Pusser, the real-life sheriff from McNairy County (made famous in the movie Walking Tall) would have done if Westboro protested in his town. I wonder…..Oh, I wonder.

“Fair and Balanced”

Now, please notice that I linked stories from both Fox News and CNN. I didn’t want to be considered biased (hmmm). However, one thing became obvious to me: even though both networks covered the story, and both networks “more-or-less” sided with the father of the slain soldier over the kooks at Westboro, one network took a little more time making sure the reader knew that the “fundamentalist” church was “anti-gay.” Surely, they have no agenda, do they?

Fox News - Fair & Balanced

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/02/westboro-funeral-pickets-protected-speech-high-court-rules/

CNN US

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/02/scotus.westboro.church/index.html?hpt=T2

http://www.rollingthunder1.com/index.html

Patriot Guard Riders

http://patriotguard.org/

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