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Honoring the fallen and those left behind

Posted: Monday, Dec 10th, 2012

Speaker Kathye Fouberg. Next, the Wreaths Across America logo.

By Louise Van Poll

Of the Plainsman

HURON — NWCA Great Plains 308 is excited to welcome the assistance of the South Dakota Patriot Guard Riders in this year’s fourth annual Wreaths Across America ceremony. Patriot Guard Riders are nationwide, but each state has its own state captain and ride captains. They all have one thing in common: An unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security.

Kathye Fouberg, a PGR member from Letcher, will be the guest speaker for the Wreaths Across America program, which will be held Dec. 15 at noon at Restlawn Memory Gardens Cemetery in the mausoleum. According to Fouberg, there are 867 Patriot Guard Riders in South Dakota, male and female, some have served and some have not, some ride motorcycles and some do not. The Patriot Guard Riders stand flag line for soldiers when they deploy and when they come home; for the funerals of veterans and those killed in action; and as escorts for funeral processions. Fouberg said it all started back in early August 2005 with the American Legion Riders chapter 136 from Kansas.

“They were appalled to hear that a fallen hero’s memory was being tarnished by misguided religious zealots who were protesting at funerals,” she said. “They agreed that their ultimate goal was to get veterans and motorcycle organizations involved in every state.”

By Oct. 18 of that year the name Patriot Guard Riders was announced and growth has been phenomenal since that time. Membership includes many riders from associations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Rolling Thunder, ABATE, Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, Intruder Alert, Leathernecks Motorcycle Club plus almost 500 individual riders.

“So that’s a pretty concise picture of where we came from and where we are today,” said Fouberg. “A great deal of credit goes to that small group of Kansas American Legion Riders, but none of this could have ever been accomplished without the patriot member who takes time out of their life to honor a fallen soldier and their family.”

Fouberg joined PGR in 2007, but was only a support member. Because of working full time and the short notice given for many of the missions, she was not able to attend. Then her brother, a Vietnam vet, passed away in 2011 in Tulsa, Okla. She called on South Dakota State Captain Jim Lentsch to find a contact with the Oklahoma PGR.

“They pulled people together to come and honor my brother,” explained Fouberg. “They gave us an escort from our hotel to the funeral home in Tulsa, then to Fort Gibson National Cemetery at Fort Gibson, Okla., picking up riders as we went. The honor and dignity that was bestowed on my family by all of these men who had been completely unknown to any of us was so unbelievable.”

That was the turning point, when she decided she needed to be a more active member, as her schedule would allow. The Wreaths Across America ceremony will be her sixth mission in the last year.

“Not a great amount, but working schedules only allow so much,” Fouberg said. “I am so honored and humbled when we do these missions. The thanks we get from family members and what it means to them that we would stand flag line for their fallen is very humbling.”

The Boston native has been married to Ron for 47 years. They moved to Letcher, where he was raised, 30 years ago. Fouberg has been employed with the Davison County Sheriff’s Office for the last 15 years as a civil deputy.

Several other PGR members in the Mitchell, Huron and surrounding areas will also be participating in the WAA ceremony, including Fouberg’s daughter from Sioux Falls.

“I am extremely honored to be this year’s speaker on behalf of the SDPGR for the Huron Wreaths Across America ceremony,” said Fouberg.

All those who are currently serving or have served in the military and their families are invited to this ceremony, which is held each year to Remember, Honor, and Teach: Remember the fallen, Honor those who serve including their families who sacrifice, and Teach our children the cost of the freedoms we enjoy each day.

Recognition of the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families is especially poignant during the traditional holiday season. The public is encouraged to attend this brief program to show their appreciation and support of our troops.

Boy Scouts from BSA Troop 151 will be participating by laying the ceremonial wreaths, the Army National Guard 153rd Engineer Battalion will comprise the color guard, the Huron Veterans Council will provide for the playing of “Taps,” and Huron High School students will sing the national anthem. After the program, PGR members will escort the wreaths to the Veterans Memorial on the cemetery grounds, where they will be on display all winter.

For the complete article see the 12-09-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-09-2012 paper.

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