Nation Of Patriots Visits Acadiana
The Nation Of Patriots Tour stopped in Scott on Saturday, handing off an American flag that is on a journey through the United States.
The Nation Of Patriots is a non-profit organization that is made up of (primarily) motorcycle enthusiasts who are also veterans. Their mission is to raise money for and awareness of wounded service members and their families.
The "Tour" started in Wisconsin, and it is traveling to each state, with different groups volunteering to "carry" the flag to the next stop. The flag started its day Saturday in Baton Rouge, and was handed off to the Cajun Harley Owner's Group (HOG) Chapter around noon. Cajun HOG then carried the flag to Alexandria for its next stop, handing off the flag in a ceremony there.
Guest speakers included Mr. Rudy Bourg, Sr., a retired U.S. Army veteran and member of the Louisiana Veterans Affairs Commission, who spoke of the importance of not only supporting our troops, but supporting the families that are going through hardships because of our troops' deployment and/or injuries.
The tour arrived at Cajun Harley-Davidson in Scott around 11:20, to the sight of dozens of volunteers holding American flags, and the Lafayette Fire Department's HUGE flag, hanging from the ladder trucks.
Once staged at Cajun Harley-Davidson, the tour started the ceremonial procession to the grandstand, let by our state and national Colors and the Baton Rouge Pipe and Drum Corps.
At the grandstand, opening remarks were given, along with an opening prayer for our troops, led by Chaplain Rowdy Daigle. Mr. Bourg made his comments, and then the ceremonial "Passing of the Flag" took place.
Towards the end of the ceremony, "The Final Roll Call" was held. If you have never been to a military ceremony in which they perform The Final Roll Call, let me tell you, it is quite a chilling event. The Officer In Charge calls the names of some of the active duty military members who are present at the event, and then calls for the fallen soldier.
As a very light rain fell, Mr. Rick Barber called for one of the active duty members in attendance, and immediately there was a loud and clear reply of "HERE!" Mr. Barber called another name, and again, an immediate "HERE!".
Then Mr. Barber called "Chief Warrant Officer Taylor".... there was no response. Again: "Chief Warrant Officer Michael Taylor"..... silence. "Chief Warrant Officer Michael G. Taylor", again, silence. One final call of "Chief Warrant Officer Michael George Taylor!!" This time, the response was from a bugle, in the distance, which began to play "Taps".
Immediately after Taps was played, the Baton Rouge Pipes and Drums Corps started playing "Amazing Grace". Towards the end of the song, one lone bagpipe player broke formation and continued the tune while marching away, similar to the "Missing Man" formation performed at air shows.
A very moving ceremony, to say the least.
After the ceremony was over, the skies opened up, so the crowd made its way into the Harley shop, and people mingled and had lunch, visited the Disabled American Veterans' table to make donations, and shopped for Harley-Davidson gear. People from Lafayette were speaking with members of the Baton Rouge organization that delivered the flag, and on more than one occasion, the conversation turned to where they had served in Vietnam. Before the end of the day, I heard "Welcome home, brother" said several times, each time with a firm handshake and a hug.
If you missed Saturday's event, you can still make donations to the Nation of Patriots by visiting their website.