The funeral service for Justus would start at 1:00 p.m. which allowed time for guests to travel long country distances. It would take place in the high school which allowed space for the many visitors to town.
The Holy Ghost Riders were among us.
Mike was everywhere.
A funeral is a time for reflection. The closer you were to the deceased, the more you have to think about.
Most of us didn’t know anything about Justus, so we were able to go about our work without that burden.
We didn’t know him but we respected him. We didn’t want to attend the service but we wanted to be of service.
It was a very hot day. I was standing opposite a woman who was handed a bottle of water. She took a sip and then she placed it alongside her foot.
In that small gesture she revealed the essence of the Patriot Guard. You see, in the photo below, the sun is shining from the right – she didn’t put it there to shield it from the sun.
In the photo below the guests were approaching from the left. She placed it there to shield it from the guests. She was there to show the flag, not her water bottle.
Justus was waiting inside. The guests had all gone in to join him. Then the family went in. Then these Marines.
And then we were done.
Those of us with big flags would remain at the high school to lead the procession the few blocks to the cemetery. Those of us with little flags would go there immediately. As I rode past them I got this image of scouts. I’m sure they snapped a proper salute as Justus passed.
This group honored the passing advance party of non-big flag bikers.
And, of course, individuals lined the short route.
One of us was…atypical. I managed to get his picture without crashing my bike into his, but not to hold the cameral level.
I thought he was dressed a little heavily for the steamy day, but he fit right in.
He already knew how to how to hold a flag.
The rifle detail also wore dark, airless suits in the near-triple-digit temperatures. They would have the exact same appearance if they were up to their knees in snow performing in single-digit temperatures. After all, if the only purpose were to make some noise, firecrackers would be adequate.
Its not about making noise.
The Marine’s gravesite was near a soldier’s. The Ride Captain (who is also Assistant State Captain) buried his son here five years ago.
Those of us with a moment to spare took that moment with Tim.
But not Mike. He had seen it before and he would see it again. Just not today.
The PGR was born the month that Tim died. Tim’s grandparents have been active PGRiders from the beginning.
We say the funeral is for his family, or for his community, or for his memory. But a lot of it is for ourselves. I’m not sure that is so selfish – we just mourn our loss with our service. When I am told “thanks for coming” I reply, “Thanks for inviting us.”
With the sun blazing down on us, we hid and we waited.
The Marines who held the field with us faced into the sun.
Two of them were women. Just from looking at them, one can see they could do anything.
But this is what they chose to do.
The funeral procession turned into the cemetery, followed a lane through rows of trees, turned again and came to a stop before Tim Bowman’s grave. Words were spoken; rifles were fired; Taps was bugled; flags were folded. No photos – you had to be there.
Then I left. This was an equipment dealer on the edge of town. I traveled south.
Crossing the river at
I continued northeast. There was evidence of flooding everywhere.
Shortly after I crossed I-90 I found my road flooded to a degree that made me pause.
As I did, these two rolled up. We decided to go around.
The alternate route was not entirely dry.
You can’t worry about everything.
Scott’s father is Norm. We stopped by his garage to inspect his flag mounts.
Good solid Americans.
Freedom. Scott and Norm get it. I tried to do my part today by riding my motorcycle, taking pictures and standing with a flag.
This young Marine stood in honor of a fellow Marine until she collapsed.
In mid-July, Justus Bartelt,
2nd of the 6th Marines, died in
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