July 28, 2012
I Care: A True Patriot Shows His Gratitude




By graveside, a family mourns for the loss of Joe Woltmon, a World War II veteran and purple heart recipient. Solemn leather-clad Patriot Guard Riders 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 Rider, 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 about the Woltmon funeral. "Although we don't know them it feels like we're closer because it gives us a chance to show that we care."
"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."

20120711_AOC_ICareJefferies_056w.jpg Contrasting from the somber mood of paying their final respects at a funeral are the jubilant welcome-homes that the Patriot Guard Riders attend when military members come home from tours overseas. Jefferies thinks of his own two sons who currently serve in the military as he claps his hands and hollers joyously at the tired young airmen descending from the escalator at Sacramento International Airport earlier this month. Standing in a circle the Patriot Guard Riders create a spectacle of patriotic gratitude, discouraging any possibility of protesters tarnishing the troops first precious moments back home.
"When you see a serviceman coming down the stairs and a 3-year-old child hugs them the tears come," Jefferies says. "To be a part of making that happen for them, it makes me feel warm and rosy inside."

The Patriot Guard Riders are a national organization made up of mostly motorcyclists, but anyone can join them on what they call "missions." They only attend events that they are invited to. To learn more about the Patriot Guard Riders and how you can join them visit www.patriotguard.org.

Do you know someone who cares deeply for a cause? To nominate someone for the I Care column please email acruz@sacbee.com.

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.