Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Patriot Guard Rides in Honor of Sgt. Omar Mora

From The Lone Star Times:

There were around 160 motorcycles, trikes and support vehicles that assembled at the football stadium in Texas City Saturday to honor Sgt. Omar Mora, who was killed in a vehicle accident in Baghdad on September 10, 2007. It was a cool, crisp morning with clear skies. The cool breeze did not last long.


The non-flag bikes led the way to the church, arriving at 9 am as planned. We set up flag lines in front of and to the south of the church, near the parking area. As always in Texas City, there was a large LEO presence, including two fire engines.


There were more media at this funeral than most I’ve been too, probably because of his participation in the Op-Ed in the NY Times and the possibility of protesters showing up. Since the Patriot Guard was formed, the protests are rare and when they do come, they are minimized by the overwhelming presence of men and women standing silently, blocking the family’s view of them. No protesters came.


During the funeral the non-flag bikes proceeded to Forest Park Cemetery to set up the flag line. After the funeral was complete, we led the way to the cemetery, following one of the fire engines and several LEO’s. We left the church and turned on 9th Ave, the main street through Texas City. We passed many businesses on the way and hundreds of people lined the streets to honor Sgt. Mora’s sacrifice.

We then proceeded up I-45 and once again, cars were pulled over on the opposite side of the freeway and the occupants standing outside their vehicles in honor. Every overpass was filled with people silently holding flags or signs in support of Sgt. Mora.


Regardless of your politics or your position on our occupation of Iraq, when one of our soldiers dies in the line of duty, we should honor them. The Patriot Guard always obtains the permission of the families, we never just show up. As Johnny D says, we are not the focus of the day; we are simply there to honor the soldier.

Texas Rep. Rick Noriega (D) and his wife Melissa released a tribute to Sgt. Mora that included these words:

The rising number of casualties strike a chord in even the most hardened among us, and the loss felt as each soldier passes does not diminish. Omar and his brothers in uniform will be missed, and must be remembered.

Voicing one’s opinion, especially from a soldier, is very difficult when ‘management’ is wrong. Omar, and his fellow soldiers had a better understanding of the cultural matrix in Iraq than what gets reported by the media, he had walked the walk. He spoke from experience when they said “we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear.”

There is another manifestation of bravery that for those in uniform is a matter of course, but takes on special meaning among civilians who do not have to follow a chain of command … the courage to listen. It’s time our political leaders listen to the insights of Sergeant Mora, his fellow soldiers, and the reality in Iraq reported by every objective analysis from the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group to the recent GAO reports.

There are those that were angry that Sgt. Mora dared to speak out against the occupation. They miss the point. If anyone should have a voice, not the only voice but a loud voice, it should be the men and women that we, as a country, put in harm’s way. Having an opinion contrary to the policy that sent them to a foreign land doesn’t mean that they are less worthy or unpatriotic. If anyone thinks that the men and women that had the courage to put their names on this Op-Ed were not and are not true to their mission, here is the last line of that piece.

“We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.”

And see it through he did. Thank you, Sgt. Omar Mora, for your service and your sacrifice.

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