In 2005, an organization called the Patriot Guard Riders was founded. Their mission was simple: In an era of political division, they wanted to ensure that military families could mourn their lost service members - privately, peacefully, and without being disrupted by protesters.
The Patriot Guard Riders are a group of individuals who will surround a military funeral, and specifically the procession, by forming a kind of human shield. The Riders take to motorcycles, cars, and trucks, and provide coverage around the mourners, ensuring their time of reflection and bereavement can proceed without interruption.
Even if you don’t think there will be any trouble at your loved one’s funeral service, having the Riders on hand to show solidarity and respect can be a meaningful gesture. Families can request the Patriot Guard Riders show up; the best place to start is by going to www.patriotguard.com and selecting the option to Request the PGR.
In addition to supplying your contact information, you will also be asked if you need the Riders for an Honor Mission or a HOTH (Help on the Homefront) Mission. The former is for heroes who have died. The latter is for events meant to celebrate heroes still living - e.g., parades, etc.
Also note that, in cases of a deceased service member, you will need to supply the Riders with the corresponding serial number, simply verifying that your loved one has died.
Not every military funeral service needs the Riders to be present, but it’s an option that’s good to know about. If you have any additional questions about coordinating the presence of the Patriot Guard Riders, contact your funeral director and ask!