So last week I had the opportunity to witness something pretty sad, and cool. I was at the courthouse in Riverside attending some hearings, and I called my uncle to see if he could meet up for lunch since he works in the area sometimes. He called me back and told me that he was actually working a funeral procession so he wouldn’t be able to make it, but he have me an intersection it would be driving by so I could see it, since it was going to be a really good procession. My thoughts: it’s a funeral procession, it’s just depressing…why would I want to go out of my way to see it? He mentioned there were going to be over 200 patrol units involved, since it was for a fallen soldier.
Let’s rewind a few hours: I was on my way TO the Riverside Courthouse, and I saw a billboard with the picture of a soldier, and the words: “Fallen but never forgotten.” I thought to myself, that’s pretty cool that they did that for him, not all soldiers get that recognition on the side of a major freeway.
Now it made sense. His funeral procession was going to be driving down this exact freeway in a few hours.
As you can probably tell by my initial thoughts on parking to see a funeral procession, I didn’t go out of my way to find the intersection and pull over. I wish I had. On the drive out of Riverside I started seeing people standing over all the bridges, holding signs, banners, and flags. And not just one or two people. I mean, large groups of people, over every freeway overpass, taking time out of their week. Wow.
Then I saw a few patrol motorcycles. Then a few more. Then a ton more. Then I saw it: hundreds of patrol vehicles, from cop cars, black and whites, all white, all black, ambulances, fire engines, private cars, what seemed like a motorcycle gang, etc. All driving on the 91, holding up traffic on both sides: eastbound because they had to stop for the procession, and westbound because of people who were trying to figure out what was going on. I was grateful at that point that I knew why they were there. I could appreciate the significance of this amazing display and rendering of honor to a fallen soldier. I was able to turn my radio off so I could take a moment of silence, knowing that it was because there was someone who had lost their life somewhere far away, away from his friends and his family. I honestly got a little teary eyed when I saw the people that were pulled over on the side of the road, in silence, holding American flags, waiting for the procession.
Regardless of my opinion of the war, I’m glad I was reminded of the humanity that is at stake. It’s so easy for me to forget that people are losing their lives everyday: I’m not personally affected by it, I don’t hear bombs, I don’t hear gunfire, I don’t see ruble, I don’t see blood. It was good to be reminded.