Letter: Ridiculous to bump the Patriot Guard Riders off the list at parade

I was happy to see I was quoted accurately by reporter Lindsey
Weaver regarding my concerns about Patriot Guard Riders exclusion
from the Fourth of July Parade this coming Monday in Morgan
Hill.
Dear Editor,

I was happy to see I was quoted accurately by reporter Lindsey Weaver regarding my concerns about Patriot Guard Riders exclusion from the Fourth of July Parade this coming Monday in Morgan Hill. I also assume Bob Hunt, parade chair, was also accurately quoted even as he rambled on with half-truths and outright fabrications.

Clearly Mr. Hunt rules the parade with an iron fist and is guided by personal biases and legalism in order to have his way. What Mr. Hunt seems to have forgotten is that this isn’t his parade, it is rather an Independence Day Parade for the nation.

The fact is, we were included and approved for 20 motorcycles on the Blue Star Mom’s parade application months ago. Yet only a couple of weeks ago, the Moms, as we affectionately call them, were notified by Mr. Hunt, that our motorcycles were not going to be allowed. When I called Mr. Hunt, he said this has been the rule for medical reasons. I was dumfounded by this ridiculous claim. Further, I checked the parade’s website under the rules tab and there was absolutely no reference to noise or motorcycles. Mr. Hunt said the rule is there nonetheless. Really?

I assured Mr. Hunt that our riders are professional and would follow the request of no revving. He said he couldn’t make any exceptions for our group, a group that was formed in 2005 to protect bereft families of fallen military members from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. We now have more than 200,000 members nationwide. We are 100 percent volunteers and most, but not all, are veterans.

Many of the riders in my group are Vietnam veterans who were treated poorly by many in this country upon their return. In addition to funeral escorts for military members killed in action, we conduct funeral escort for veterans who have passed away. We also conduct welcome homes and escorts at airports for military members returning home as well as send offs for military members going on deployments. Since many of our missions are not happy occasions, parades have become therapeutic for many of us and the public loves us and they do not hold their ears in pain. How ridiculous is that statement? I thank Mr. Hunt for his service but that does not excuse his mistreatment of our organization and his misstatement that we didn’t follow the rules. I’m wondering if this is becoming a trend in Morgan Hill? Suspending four students for wearing patriotic attire to high school and now arbitrarily banning Patriot Guard Riders from the city’s premier patriotic event.

Just weeks ago and for the second time in two years, PGR participated in the Gilroy Memorial Day Parade with nearly 50 motorcycles and three vehicles and rode away with first place and a delighted crowd, none of whom to my knowledge, suffered any medical problems.

Mark Zappa, Gilroy, former Sgt. USAF, 1977-81,

Patriot Guard Ride Captain

The Golden Quill is awarded occasionally for a well-written letter.

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