The song — featured on their latest CD, “Rangers and Rebels” — was penned by Cindy Smith, one half of the Western duo, and her writing partner T.B. Burton. After being contacted by PGR member Jim Filhart, the Cartersville resident learned more about the organization and felt led to support their cause.
“[The Vietnam veteran] is reminiscing about when he was a boy, and he went off to war when he was just 18 years old and how it changed his life,” Smith said, referring to the song, “Patriot Guard Riders.” “... So it’s about the Marine, how he went off and doesn’t regret what he’s done even though people try to put shame on the Vietnam [veterans]. He served his country without regret or shame and still was a flag-flying citizen every day of his life.
“And then it’s talking about the observer who watched his funeral. It says — ‘I could see about 100 bikes as I recall that day. Must have looked like a parade of flags on the highway. I can still hear their engines roar, echoing in the wind. They’re the Patriot Guard Riders. They came through to escort him.’ So that’s the chorus. The next verse, it says, ‘The morning of the funeral, it’s a day I can’t forget. Those men who rode from miles away that he never even met. They came to show their support for another they have lost and shield the grieving family from protestors who would cross. They followed in formation to his final resting place, assuring his arrival there with dignity and grace.’”
To raise awareness and funds for the PGR, Alias, Smith & Owens, which also features vocalist Randy Owens, is performing at an event organized by and held at Harley-Davidson of Cartersville Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. At the free concert, the Western duo will donate $1 from each CD or T-shirt sale to the Georgia PGR organization.
According to www.patriotguard.org, “The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation. We have one thing in common besides motorcycles. We have an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security.
“... Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives: show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities; [and] shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors. We accomplish the latter through strictly legal and non-violent means.”
Individuals also can purchase “Rangers and Rebels” for $12.99 or download “Patriot Guard Riders” on www.amazon.com, with all the proceeds from the 99-cent digital track benefiting the PGR organization.
“It’s a feeling you can’t describe,” Owens said, about touching listeners with “Patriot Guard Riders.” “In a small way, it’s like we’re giving back to the veterans and the firefighters and service people. It’s really moving to me. Every time I sing it, I tear up a little bit.”
Like Owens, Smith also has been struck by the song’s ability to connect with the public, especially members of the PGR.
“[When] we played it for the first time for [high ranking PGR members], all these grown men had tears in their eyes and were wiping their eyes,” she said. “... It touches everybody. Everywhere we have performed it, I see somebody crying out there. It’s good for me [because] I feel like if you can provoke emotion in people, you’ve done something right.”