There's a part of the 4th of July that America never sees. On normal days it's covered up by every day life and news about celebrities; on the 4th of July it's covered up by fireworks and hot dogs.
This forth of July weekend a fallen soldier arrived home. He was an army specialist and most likely under 21. As my husband and I drove to base to pay respects to his family as his body arrived I worried that not many would be there since it was the holiday weekend. My fears were confirmed as only his family and a few bystanders stood in silence as his plane touched down. His flag draped casket was the only cargo on the plane. The process of transporting his casket from the plane to the hearse was very solemn and yet honoring. How heartbreaking to have to greet your son that way.
As soon as his casket was in place we headed off to Harmon drive. Harmon drive is the long entrance into base that is lined with every state's flag, and for fallen soldiers it's where people line up to pay respects to the family. As we drove we passed a parking lot of patriot riders who were waiting for the signal to start the procession. The Patriot riders are a bunch of Harley Davidson bikers who carry American flags and voluntarily escort fallen soldiers to their final resting place. There were 99 of them present.
And along with the great numbers of bikers, Harmon drive was completely lined with patriotic Americans as we arrived. Some held their hands over their hearts while other held American flags. Standing by my husband as the police escort drove by gave me chills. I couldn't help but wonder if they'd be escorting him some day. And then the multitude of patriot riders drove by with his body following. His mother was in the car behind. She had her window rolled down and whispered "thank you" to all the people who had come to welcome her son home. She was all I could think about as the procession continued on.
As Brian and I turned to walk away we both had tears in our eyes. If only all of America could see firsthand the cost of the 4th of July.