Ride, Patriot Guard, Ride!
by Connie Heckert
Five men met in Mulvane, Kansas at the American Legion Paul Stewart Irwin Post 136 on November 8, 2005. They started a new organization, the Patriot Guard Riders, to show respect to fallen soldiers and support their loved ones at funerals and visitations.
Today, the grassroots organization has grown to more than 350,000 registered members with a large number of additional individuals who participate in flag lines, services and parades. The original mission of honoring fallen soldiers has grown to recognizing first responders, active duty military personnel and veterans.
These Americans come from all political parties, religions and work situations. They are patriots making a difference for good in their communities and states all across America.
The Association of the United States Army awarded its prestigious
2017 National Service Award to the Patriot Guard Riders.
Connie Heckert grew up attending the program of the Junior American Legion and is the daughter of a World War II veteran. Her brother-in-law, Kenny Freund, is a Vietnam War veteran who was awarded two Purple Heart medals. Connie is an aunt to Todd Stuflick, a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy (and his wife, Tiffany Brumley Stuflick, also a Lieutenant Commander). Heckert has participated in PGR missions since 2010 with Ron Wells, a grandfather of National Guardsman Mitch Klauer who served in the Afghanistan conflict. Ron’s uncle, Dean Brix, was a Bronze Star medalist during the Korean War.
Photos by Figge docent,
Connie Heckert prides herself in having a liberal arts education with multiple academic degrees. Random House Dictionary defines it as focusing on the arts, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. She defines it as being interested in many subjects and practicing many forms of writing, editing and consulting in helping people interested in their own book projects. She has published 14 books, depending on how you count them (more with anthologies and charitable projects), from 32 pages to more than 230 pages for children, teens and adults. From picture books to corporate family histories for business professionals, from idea to finished projects with text, photographs, photo captions, index—all components of book projects, variety is a characteristic that keeps the writing life interesting.