Biker Goose

This past weekend, Mother Goose attended a local festival, Rockin’ for the Troops, a fantastic fundraiser for the organization Operation Support our Troops — America. Beside “manning” (or goosing) the exhibit table in the Expo Tent on behalf of the Blue Star Banner tradition, we also enjoyed many different aspects of the festival.

What’s a festival without an inflatable airman?

There were many bands on the stage Saturday, but one of the most wonderful was a group out of Chicago known as The Voice. They perform mostly classic Motown hits, and they do it with a great passion!

The Voice in their peach-flavored, nice-tailored suits. These guys were HOT!

And, of course, headlining the concert was the Lt. Dan Band, featuring Gary Sinise. This cover band is so wonderful — Gary takes them on USO tours around the world to entertain the troops in harm’s way. I believe he said they had been out on eleven tours this year already. Gary has a GREAT patriotic heart, and is involved in so many ways making life better for the troops and veterans, including his own Gary Sinise foundation and Operation Iraqi Children.

Of course, Mother Goose could not get close enough to him to honk “I love you, Gary!” in his ear, but the nice people at Wikipedia have let me borrow this picture of Gary taken a couple years ago in Chicago.

One heckuva patriot, Gary Sinise…

One of the biggest thrills for Mother Goose was about midway through the evening when the Wild Fire Chapter of Villa Park came riding into the park — you could hear the sweet roar of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and see the crowd rise to their feet in salute for these fun people. Bikers are actually really nice folks. And with the natural shift in demographics these days, most bikers are actually the same age as Mother Goose — some older, some younger, but mostly they are people just like us! Seriously! Here are some pictures of some awesome bikes:

As far as the eye could see…

So much shiny chrome, it burned the eyes of the goose.

This bike was painted to honor the memory of 9/11. It was breathtaking in person, and stopped us in our tracks.

Port side view of the 9/11 bike. Or maybe it’s the starboard side? I don’t know, I’m only a goose, not a sailor…

Certainly you are asking yourself, “Why is Mother Goose so intensely interested in bikers and Harley-Davidson motorcycles?”

Mother Goose and Brother Goose

Maybe it’s in my genes…

Biker Goose is done puffing up her patriotic feathers for now. God bless our brave troops!

Acts of Valor in Colorado

I am quite certain that many of my patriotic friends have seen the movie and now the DVD, Act of Valor. This is a true-to-life movie about U.S. Navy Seals, starring REAL Seals involved in REAL Seal activities. It’s very well done, and Mother Goose has mentioned it before, of course. And because Mother Goose is such a patriotic person herself, she listens to the movie soundtrack and in fact, keeps it in the Goosemobile at all times.

Today as I was driving out to the western suburbs to have an iced coffee with a dear friend, I had the volume turned up. Way up high and singing along with the first song on the CD. It’s called “For You” — and it’s a heartfelt song written and performed by Keith Urban. Here’s a YouTube video of the song if you are at all interested…

I believe that Mr. Urban wrote it especially for the movie, but today it means even more as we consider the heroes in Aurora, Colorado last Friday.

Three of the men who perished in the movie theater were military guys: a sailor, an airman and a Navy veteran.

Petty Officer John Larimer

Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress

Navy veteran and father Jonathan Blunk

Each of these brave soldiers and sailors died protecting and saving somebody they cared about. Each of them took a bullet that would have killed someone else. Look at the opening lyrics to Mr. Urban’s song:

Well, all I saw was smoke and fire…
I didn’t feel a thing.
But suddenly I was rising higher…
And I felt like I just made… the biggest mistake.
When I thought about my unborn child…
When I thought about my wife…
And the answer rang out CLEAR from somewhere up above

No greater gift has man, then to lay down his life for Love.

And I wondered, would I give my life?
Could I make that sacrifice?
If it came down to it, could I take the bullet… I would
Yes I would, For You

And so the tears rolled down the feathery cheeks of Mother Goose one more time as she considered the lives of these brave men and the ultimate sacrifice they made last Friday in Colorado.

Though I am a goose, I ask myself sometimes, “What makes a hero?” What is inside a person to cause him to throw himself (or herself) into harm’s way without any rational thought to his own safety, but only considering the welfare and protection of another human being? I don’t know…

Are we born with that automatic response? Is it something they train the guys to do when they are in boot camp? But there are heroes outside of the military, of course. What lies within the heart of a person that they would put another before themselves, especially in a crisis where there is no time for thought? How do they take on death in place of another human?

In accounts of all three of these men, they had mentioned to people in their lives that they would in fact die for another person if need be. All three of them had already thought this through and had made up their minds about it! To me, that is so amazing! These men are not fools. They are not glory-seekers. They are not death-wishers.

They simply love.

They just know that dying for someone is the ultimate love.

They lived out their lives with the rich acceptance that dying for love is everything.

It goes against every instinct within us. All of our instincts point to survival, not sacrifice. Instinct says “every man for himself” and “look out for number one”.

It’s just all about love, dear friends. Please be kind to one another today. Please pray for the families and friends of John, Jesse and Jonathan.

Mother Goose Meets a Real Navy SEAL

“Hello? Sir? Excuse me, sir,” Mother Goose was nearly squawking as she wheeled her bicycle into the driveway. The man turned from loading the back of his SUV to see who could be honking at him. Quickly dismounting, Mother Goose stuck out her wing and said, “Sir, I just want to thank you for your service to America!”

When he smiled warmly and shook her hand, Mother Goose knew she had made the right decision to stop and meet this man. His handshake grip was the strongest and friendliest she had ever experienced. Having passed this home countless times in the past two years, I was at an extreme advantage in this meeting. I had seen his American flag flying from the porch next to the POW/MIA flag. It was his Blue Star Banner hanging in his front window that had gotten Mother Goose all in a flap about that old tradition. His car parked in the driveway with the license plate holder that read, “Retired Senior Chief” and his bumper stickers all told the same story: in this home lives a deeply patriotic and retired U.S. Sailor, possibly even a Navy SEAL.

I told him about my twin sons who are training for nuclear operations in the U.S. Navy in Charleston. He was proud to tell me that he had joined the Navy in 1960 and retired in 2000 at an E-8 level, senior chief petty officer and, indeed, a SEAL. My mind whirled around the life he must have experienced.

“So your boys will be going into the bubbles?” he asked with a grin.

Mother Goose stared at him with a blank look on her feathery face and then turned her head to contemplate what he might mean…

“On a submarine?” he graciously clarified for the goose who is rather ignorant of Navy terms.

“Well,” I replied with a thankful smile. “They have gone back and forth on that. Possibly now they’ll want to be on an aircraft carrier, maybe one that ports out in Washington.”

As we chatted back and forth about boot camp and this and that Navy policy, different neighbors walked by us on the sidewalk — moms and kids going to soccer practice and baseball practice, folks walking their dogs, or getting their own exercise in the late afternoon sunshine. He addressed each and every one of them with a cheerful and heartfelt greeting as if he knew each person on the avenue. He smiled fondly at every single one. Later, I thought about this at great length.

This soldier/sailor has knows every form of danger known to humankind — probably fought in the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of Iraq and possibly the mountains of Afghanistan. He’s certainly survived the most atrocious and fearful situations. The number of SEALS who actually retire is relatively small in the general military population — most just don’t make it. But here he is, smiling at all these neighbors and passersby, including a strange goose on a bike. He seems to have time for everybody.

I wonder if he looks at each and every person he meets as someone he would rescue or protect.

For forty years, it was his job to defend America and bravely serve our nation. To most of us that sounds noble in itself, but what if he doesn’t just view it as service to America, but something much more personal. Maybe he looks at us with such fondness because he was protecting and defending Leslie or Dianna or Debra or Jeff or Erik or Linda or Mark — real people in his neighborhood with real names and faces, with children and dreams and daily occupations.

His name is Bill. He looks like a regular retired guy, but he’s so much more than that. He’s a real hero!

The Blue Star Banner in the window is for his son, a U.S. Marine who has recently returned from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Another hero.

Of course, you know Mother Goose…she’ll be privately obsessing about this for awhile. I already downloaded a book from Amazon entitled, Service. It’s the story by Marcus Luttrell of his service to America as a Team 5 Navy SEAL. In just a few weeks, the Act of Valor DVD will be in the stores. Memorial Day is in ten days. My own two sailor sons will be home on leave for a few days later this month.

These guys are looking good, but they are not the sons of Mother Goose…

Mother Goose thinks this is a good place to insert a “call to action”. If you see a uniformed service man or woman, go up to them with your wing extended and thank them for serving America. If you know of a veteran in your neighborhood, thank them for their service. If there’s a military family with kids at your school, get to know them — they have special needs, especially if mom or dad are deployed. Please pray for the safety of our brave soldiers and sailors — pray that wars would cease.

God bless America and God bless you.

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 79,306 honks to date

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March 2023