To: The Men and Women of the Patriot Guard Riders NY,
My father Albert Balsamo, a US Navy Veteran of Vietnam and a retired Detective from the Hempstead Police Department, passed away on April 24th, 2020. Upon his passing I and my family were heartbroken that we could not have a "proper" wake and funeral for my father due to the current state of the world. However, what started out as a simple request to have a representative from the Hempstead Police Department escort my father to Calverton National Cemetery, became more than anything my family could have imagined. My request made its way to Bill Michell, a PGRNY member and retired HPD, who informed me that the PGRNY could provide military honors for my Dad. Little did I know that Mission Request would become the most incredible way to honor my father. As my family pulled into the parking lot of the funeral home, expecting to the lone escorts for my father to Calverton, we were met with the beautiful sight of dozens of riders and their motocycles all there to escort him on his final journey. The American flags waving in the breeze, along with the military and law enforcement insignias worn by the riders, made for a truly amazing sight. As I walked through the crowd, trying to thank you all, I was struck by the fact that you thanked me for my father's service. As the procession wound its way through my father's neighborhood to the church, passerby stopped what they were doing to salute, make the sign of the cross, or just stand at attention. The awe inspiring procession inspired total strangers to honor a man they had never met, but to also honor the flag and our country - something we could all do a little more often. My father was a proud veteran, often getting teary-eyed when he witnessed any show of support for our country, and the men and women who defend it. He most certainly would have been one of those passerby, stopping in his tracks to render a salute. He would have no doubt asked "All this for me?!', and would have had a smile from ear to ear! Thank you for honoring my father and thank you for giving my family a truly incredible way to say goodbye to a man we love so much. God bless you and your families...stay safe!
Christine and The Balsamo Family