Respectfully silent

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By The Staff

While friends and family of the late Sgt. Randy Sigley were stopping by Bosley Funeral Home to pay their respects Sunday morning, a small group was gathering in the parking lot across the street.

The Patriot Guard Riders of Kentucky were going over their plans.

They would stand silently holding American flags as visitors arrived at the funeral home. Later they formed similar lines at Lebanon Baptist Church, where Sgt. Sigley's funeral service was held. And at the Lebanon National Cemetery, they formed a ring of flags as the final prayers were being read.

Their purpose was to show support and respect for the family of a fallen soldier.

It's something they've been doing for years, and it's something they will continue to do for years to come.

Will Arnold, the Kentucky state captain for the Patriot Guard Riders, explained that there are 1,380 members in the Bluegrass State.

Arnold said every member who was present Sunday was a veteran, had family members in the military or were just patriots who care about service veterans.

The first Patriot Guard chapter started in 2005 in Kansas by three American Legion members, according to Arnold. The organization has grown to approximately 180,000 members across the United States.

They attend funerals for military service members who die while on active duty, veterans and first responders (police, firefighter and EMS personnel).

The Patriot Guard started as a response to Westboro Baptist Church, a group that regularly protests at funerals with messages that can only be described as hate-filled. (Rev. David Whitlock has written a column about Westboro, which appears on page A12.)

But the Patriot Guard's purpose is to do more than shield families from venomous rhetoric. As they demonstrated Sunday, they are present to show respect for fallen heroes, their families and their communities. If they are invited by the family, they will greet the body of the soldier as it arrives. They will escort the coffin and, as they did Sunday, stand silently in a row of flags.

The Patriot Guard is a volunteer organization open to anyone. Their only requirement is that the members show respect.

"We're here to support the soldiers and their families," Arnold said.

But there is one more thing Arnold wants people to know.

"It's not about us," he said. "It's about the soldiers. It's about the military."

It's that kind of selfless dedication that makes us say to the Patriot Guard: Job well done. Keep up the good work.

Editor's note: You can learn more about the Patriot Guard Riders at pgrofky.com.