New "Patriot Guard Highway"

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  1. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Posted on Fri, Oct. 24, 2008

    State highway named in honor of Patriot Guard
    A section of K-53 is dedicated to the motorcyclists

    The Wichita Eagle

    It was raining at 3 a.m. on Oct. 11, 2005, when more than 40 motorcycle riders met at the American Legion post in Mulvane for the start of a 190-mile trip to a soldier's funeral in Chelsea, Okla.

    That was the first mission of the Patriot Guard, which has grown into a national movement since that night.

    On Thursday, 69 missions later, Patriot Guard members met at the post in the rain again.

    This time, they rolled along a stretch of highway that had their own name on it.

    Thirty bikes traveled from downtown Mulvane along a six-mile stretch of K-53 to the Kansas Turnpike, where a new sign with "Patriot Guard Highway" painted on it was installed beside the road.

    "I'm just amazed something like that could happen in three years," said the group's founder, Terry Houck.

    State transportation officials dedicated the stretch of highway to the Patriot Guard at a ceremony in the Mulvane City Council chambers.

    Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller joined Mulvane Mayor Jim Ford to pay tribute to the Patriot Guard and unveil one of the new highway signs.

    Miller also read an e-mail posted on the group's web site from somebody who saw them at a funeral.

    "Those guys don't have to do that. That's what makes them so great," it said.

    The idea of naming the portion of K-53 near Mulvane for the Guard came from late state Rep. Ted Powers.

    It was one his final pieces of legislation and passed the 2008 session unanimously in the House and Senate. His widow, Betty, attended the ceremony.

    The idea to form the Guard came from Houck's wife, Carol.

    She read a newspaper story about plans by the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka to protest at a soldier's funeral.

    Outraged, she asked her husband if the American Legion riders would go down there with American flags on their bikes and form a human barrier to screen the service from the protesters.

    Looking at the new highway sign in the council chambers, Carol Houck said, "I think it's great. But it's not about us. This is about the soldiers."

    © 2007 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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