Monday, February 1, 2016

~ Remember Our Fallen ~

"Man does not weave this web of life.  He is merely a strand of it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."  Chief  Seattle

Remembering our Fallen ~ riding to Exeter, California.

Just last week, I was on an eight-day bike trip out to the Badlands of New Mexico covering 2,673 miles.  That trip is called Remembering 9/11.

This Sunday morning, my bike will travel 84.8 miles to honor fallen veterans.  Yesterday, the headlines in our local newspaper read, "Memorial to honor veterans... Remembering Our Fallen is an exhibit to honor military members from the state of California who have lost their lives suffered in a war zone since September 11, 2001."

Maybe things just happen for a reason but I feel that I needed to be a part of this bike ride.

The Patriot Guard Riders will lead a procession of motorcycles with flags honoring the Fallen Heroes.  We will ride from Highway 99, through Visalia, Farmersville, and then to the Exeter Veterans Memorial Building.  I have been on similar bike rides and it is always an honor to help.

You quickly meet other bikers and I'm listening to a guy who just returned from Sturgis.  "How was the weather this year," I ask.  "Hail, lots of hail, pretty intense shit," he says.  I can see by the glare in his eyes that he has been there.  He rides an Indian and I tell him that he has a cool looking bike.  "Thanks, I like it."  Then, bikes begin to fire up and our talk is over.

My flag is on the back of my bike and soon the roar of 100 or so bikes can be heard.  We all ride in a safe, staggered formation through Visalia, Farmersville, and then to our final destination, Exeter.

I love to see the people lined up along the sides of these country roads waving their flags.  We ride in the fast lane and cars are pulling off the road, many are taking pictures, honking their horns, and waving American flags.

As we approach the smaller towns of Farmersville and Exeter, kids line the streets waving small American flags, and many old men stand stoically in salute as we pass by.  These men know what freedom means. Even these old men are part of something bigger than the hundred bikers passing in front of them. Most of them stand quietly, they stand in salute, freedom etched in their faces, and to me, a powerful jester to the American flags waving behind our bikes.  Freedom.

We seem to hit all the green lights and soon police are visible at intersections holding back traffic as we pass.  We appreciate their support; I sense that they love the procession as well.

Inside the Exeter Memorial Building, the exhibits are going up.  There is one panel that catches my attention.  It is a quote by Ronald Reagan:   
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States when men were free."
It is exciting and powerful to be in this memorial procession, all 84.8 miles.  Personally, this ride is also is meant to honor my best friend John Lopez, a deceased Vietnam veteran.  John was one of the original members of the infamous, "Yamaha Gang" in Barstow, California in 1967.

Fallen, yet, never forgotten.

This is not my bike, but very proud to park next to it.  This biker was one of the last to leave.

~ Pablo Griego - Nacio 1841 y Murio 1915 ~

"If the very old will remember, the very young will listen" ~ Chief Dan George

There are seven days to this story but the most important ones took place at the La Joya Cemetery in New Mexico on September 21 and 22, 2012.

Ruben Griego, Gilbert Griego, and Robert Griego rode our bikes respectfully from Cedar City Utah, Barstow and Three Rivers California.  While we traveled separately, together we had one common goal.  We came there to honor our grandfather Pablo Griego, and in the  case of Ruben, his great-grandfather.  Pablo was born on January 25, 1841 and died in about 1915.  We chose these days to coincide with the La Joya Fiestas. 

We know that our mom and dad and grandparents loved the Fiestas; this was the perfect time for our celebration.  Our journey was supported by our sisters and brothers. 

We are here to place a new headstone and plaque for Pablo Griego at the site designated by Marcello Abeyta, the caretaker of the La Joya Cemetery.  Marcello is also our next door neighbor, and is always welcoming us into us into his house for a short visit, but they usually last a bit longer.  Our grandmother, Alejandra Griego has her own headstone in the La Joya Cemetery.

The headstone is a 250 pound petrified tree which stands about 24 inches tall, and riding with it on the back of my bike was a challenge.  I made three trips for just the cement.  The stone grains are thousands and thousands of years old.  At the base of the petrified tree is a metal plaque measuring 13" x 11" with engraving that reads: 

Pablo Griego, Nacio Jan. 25, 1841.....Murio 1915.  It has the Zia symbol in the center of the plaque representing the circle of life. 

Our ceremony is simple.  We each take turns sprinkling water on the metal plaque which points East and West.  We speak words silently until we complete a full circle, passing the  water bottle to the next -- Robert Griego, then Gilbert Griego, then Elva Esquibel, then Ruben Griego, then Robert Esquibel.

The Zia symbol has beneath it a piece of rock from the original petrified tree and the grains point North and South.  We hope this small piece of wood from the original tree will graft to the new tree before us.  Time will tell.

We honor Pablo Griego and all our families with this ceremony.  Our roots run deeply in La Joya.

Collectively, we traveled 5,395 miles.

Elva and Robert Griego ~ "we honor Pablo Griego"

The La Joya Boys
Robert Griego ~ La Joya cemetery
Robert and Gilbert Griego ~ La Joya cementery
Gilbert and Ruben Griego ~ "we honor Pablo Griego"

Ruben and Robert Griego ~ La Joya cemetery
Gilbert and Robert Griego ~ La Joya cemetery
Ruben, Gilbert, Robert Griego, and Elva Esquibel

Proud to come from La Joya

Day ride out to Mountainair, New Mexico
Ruben, Robert, and Gilbert Griego's bikes ~ ~ Mountainair, New Mexico