By graveside, a family mourns for the loss of Joe Woltmon, a World War II veteran and purple heart recipient. Solemn leather-clad Patriot Guards form a circle around them, each holding an American flag, creating a silent cocoon of protection and support. Their concern is felt in the deep rumble of their motorcycles and seen upon furrowed brows.
As a Patriot Guard, Tom Jefferies, 69, has attended more than 500 events honoring military service members. He immigrated to the United States as a child, and says he loves this country even more because he had to work for his citizenship. “We hope in some small way we’ve made it easier to deal with,” he said.
“It’s my way of saying thank you for what you do,” he said. “I cherish the freedom those people have dedicated their lives to giving.”