Sunday, August 27, 2006

Memorial for Navy Seal, Mark Lee

On Saturday, August 26, Petty Officer 2nd, Mark Lee, Navy Seal, was remembered in his hometown of Hood River, Oregon. He is the first from the Navy's elite commando force to die in Iraq. Mark lost his life on August 2, 2006.

Oregonians showed up en masse to celebrate his life and pay their respects. Unfortunately, the dispicable from Westborough showed up to spew their filth. However, the Patriot Guard Riders and other shielded the family and friends from their display.

Mark Lee and the Patriot Guard Riders
-Mike Francis, The Oregonian

I've always admired the Patriot Guard Riders -- the platoons of motorcycle-riding veterans who appear at the funerals of young men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it was wonderful to see them today. They did the Lee family a great service, and they were recognized in a way that I haven't seen before.

Marc Lee was a Navy SEAL, killed while saving friends in his platoon while under fire in Ramadi, Iraq. His funeral service in San Diego was well-attended, including by members of his platoon who since have returned to Iraq. But the family wanted to have a memorial service to Marc in Hood River, too.

It was a perfect Gorge day today, with no clouds and just a light wind. The Port of Hood River Expo Center drew hundreds of friends and well-wishers, from Rep. Greg Walden to a pack of Scouts. They were there to honor and remember Marc Lee. And sadly, so were four shrews from Topeka, Kan., where a congregation has decided that the deaths of soldiers are God's punishment on America for tolerating homosexuality.

I don't want to make more of their small protest than it was -- four loud women with offensive signs. It is indecent of them to do what they do -- travel to the funerals of fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- but surely, at some level, they understand that.

The Patriot Guard Riders turned out in force. They held flags and stood guard along the sidewalk leading to the Expo Center. They were strong and gentle, showing no anger (at least that I saw) and even saying, as one protester chanted nearby, "Make sure she doesn't get hurt.

"When the service began inside, the protesters packed and left. But the Patriot Guard remained, hearing the tributes and prayers focused on Marc Lee and the Lee family. One speaker, Marc Lee's brother in law, singled them out for praise, saying the family valued their own service in an earlier war, and thanking them for attending today.

The gathered friends erupted in applause, and the ovation was sustained for a long minute, while the Riders hung at the back of the hall and outside the doors.

At the end of the service, I saw nothing I've never seen before: Marc's widow, brother and other members of the family walking the lines of flag-holding Riders, shaking each of their hands and saying thanks.

For the Vietnam vets who came home to indifference and hostility, it was a meaningful show of gratitude. It was a small act of healing that both generations need.

One Marc Lee story from the service: He grew up in Hood River loving soccer. Some of the pictures shown today were from a match between his SEAL platoon and some Iraqi Army soldiers, on a dusty pitch surrounded by Hesco barriers. Marc clearly was an active player. The family pastor, Doug Iverson, told a story from the SEALS, who said they had never beaten the Iraqis in soccer ... until Marc Lee arrived. In a match won by the SEALS, Marc scored three of the five goals. They scheduled a rematch, but Marc didn't live to see it. At the service in San Diego, his soccer shoes and a soccer ball he had ordered were on display.

Read more here -

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