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Memorial Day: Let Us Never Forget

May 27, 2019

The Rev. Soaring Eagle Lisa Wiedman is a United Methodist pastor with a rich ministry. She and her husband Bill and their family were active in a church it was my joy to serve when they began a motorcycle ministry.

One of my favorite memories from that time is of the Sunday morning someone stopped me just outside the sanctuary and warned me to be careful because, “There’s a lot of denim and leather and chains in there.” 

Let me get out of Lisa’s way. It’s with her graciously expressed permission that I share this with you today —

I know this is a little long, but this was my first mission with the patriot guard and how it affected me. I shared this with both of my congregations this morning and it was part of my presentation at the American Legion.

Please bear with me as I share something personal. If you see me wearing my vest and notice the patches you will see a few that speak of me being a veteran, and a member of the patriot guard.

And if you see me ride my bike here in town you will see there is a yellow flag that flies on the back of my bike. It is the flag of the patriot guard and when I can, I am blessed to ride with the patriot guard. We ride to honor those who served.

In October 2009 SSgt Christopher Rudzinski, serving in Afghanistan was in a vehicle that hit an IED and was killed. He left behind his wife Caroline and his 18-month-old son, Ryan. I did not know Chris, but we did develop a relationship with his family and still stay in touch to this day. I know he was not family and I didn’t have any idea who he was, but his sacrifice touched me deeply.

I stood in formation as they brought his body from the plane and placed it in the hearse.

I was honored to be in the procession that brought him from the airport to his home town and to stand with other brothers and sisters who also served as we held flags as the endless stream of visitors came into the high school for visitation.

To stand outside of the church and then to escort him to his final resting place is forever ingrained into my memories and to see the pain and pride in his parents and his young wife’s face as they laid him to rest is something that will always be with me.

So as we have our cookouts, and camping trips, let us never forget the sacrifice of SSgt Christopher Rudzinksi and the 1000s of other who have made it possible for us to enjoy those freedoms.

— Amen? 

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