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A show of support

A member of the Minnesota Patriot Guard waits for the last bunch of soldiers to arrive at the Rosemount Community Center. The patriot guard was present at all four soldier homecomings.

As the last bunch of soldiers with the 34th Infantry Division walked into the Rosemount Community Center Wednesday they walked through a line of flags held proudly by members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard.

The 20 or so members of the group were there to show their support and respect for the soldiers who risked their lives in the name of freedom.

Shortly after the National Guard members broke formation to reunite with their families, there was no sign the group had even been there.

The primary mission of the Patriot Guard is to attend the funeral services of fallen soldiers to ensure an atmosphere of dignity said ride captain Rick Williams. Additionally, the members attend military send-offs and homecomings at the invitation of the group or family.

At least a handful of members have been present at each of the four homecomings held at the Rosemount Community Center over the last month. While not everyone notices the quiet group, the soldiers and family members who do, appreciate the effort.

"It's nice to know we are supported," said PFC Kayla McQuiston, who was part of the final wave of Red bull soldiers to return from Iraq.

The Minnesota Patriot Guard is the Minnesota-based arm of the Patriot Guard Riders National organization. Williams said all the members of the diverse group share one thing: a tremendous respect for those who risk their lives. While many associate motorcycles with the group, Williams said riding is not a requirement.

"You just have to be willing to show respect for the troops and their families," said Williams.

Williams said there are 5,500 Minnesota Patriot Guard many of whom are located in the Twin Cities. The national organization boasts a membership of more than 100,000 people.

For more information visit the Minnesota Patriot Guard web site at www.mnpatriotguard. org.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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