20 year old Lance Cpl. Brandon T. Lara died a week ago Saturday in Iraq. He was brought home Sunday and I was honored to stand along the roadside with thousands of others to honor him and his family as his motorcade drove by.
I was moved beyond tears to a parent's pain at the thought of losing my son as the hearse moved past us. To bear witness to the family's pain in the next vehicle was almost more than one could stand. The sacrifice this young man made, that his family made, that all of us who support our troops made, is immeasurable. I pray that he and those along with him have not died in vain.
May we never forget their supreme sacrifice. When called, may we make our own in the ways we are able, in honor of all those who have fallen for our sake. May we carry our Brandons with us as we continue the battle.
Semper Fi, Brandon.
The morning is hot. At 10:00 , it's already hovering around 90 degrees, yet the streets are lined with patriots.
The vehicles went on as far as you could see.
Firefighters were everywhere. These trucks were at the front entrance of Randolph Air Force Base. As they tried to get the flag to cooperate, the crowd was cheering them on.
Bikers. So many bikers. This group is called the Patriot Guard Riders. They show up at funeral processions around the country as invited guests by the families. Amazing folks.
Patriotism and sadness intertwined everyone's hearts and minds.
As the procession started, we took to the street.
I love the huge flag those folks brought. This is the front of the base.
There had been chatter and nervous laughter from some, but as the procession started, silence fell.
We were all crying. The sadness had a physical weight. Brandon's sacrifice, the sacrifice of so many, wasn't lost on anyone there to say goodbye.
Patriot Guard Riders.
A funny thing happened after the procession passed us. So many jumped into their cars and followed. The procession was from Randolph Air Force Base to the city of New Braunfels, which is about 30 miles away. We knew the route...so many of us followed.
I was overwhelmed with how many people were standing in the full sun, in the Texas heat, to have a chance to pay their respects.
Youngsters, teenagers, old folks. They stood there, silent as we all passed by. Makes me cry even now.
A vet in a wheelchair in the middle of the street. I can not express the emotion I felt. I was so proud of my fellow Americans.
Another moment where I started to cry. From one generation of badasses to another, these guys stood and waited on Brandon.
The procession nearing IH35. We wondered how the procession was going to get onto the highway. There were so many vehicles following at this point. I'd say at least 50-75, not counting bikers. The longer we were on the road, the more the procession grew.
One of the Patriot Guard Riders pulling up the rear.
We pulled out of the procession right before IH35. This is the last of it. How would they get on that highway?!
Not to worry, the cops pulled IH35 to a standstill. You can see the traffic to the north is not only stopped, but backed up. From this point it's another 20 miles or so to New Braunfels. I have never in all my years living here, ever seen a funeral procession given the right-of-way like this. It made me laugh with joy.
My parting thought is this: If you ever have the opportunity to stand along the road to honor a fallen soldier as their motorcade passes by, do it. It is the least we can do.