Hundreds of American flags flying at Southwest Church is a sign that Patriot Weekend has arrived. From a bike ride to bag pipes, the annual event raises funds to support Riverside County veterans and law enforcement. Many shared what the stars & stripes mean to them amid a national conversation about kneeling during the national anthem.
"What's going on now about taking a knee during the national anthem, very disrespectful," said event organizer, Tim Esser.
"A lot of people coming out to support the flag when the flag seems very controversial, but I'll tell you, the patriotism here is just unbelievable," said Senator Jeff Stone (R) 28th district.
"You see tears in their eyes, you see the flag being respected, you've got people going up, hundreds of people going up saying thank you for your services," said Esser.
On Saturday, Senator Stone presented a flag to the family of a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice. "We're going to present it to the first causality, if you will, of this area in the first Afghan conflict enduring freedom," said Stone while addressing the crowd. A ceremony including a 21-gun salute and 'Taps" followed.
Indio's American Legion Post 739 raised thousands to aid programs providing services to disabled veterans. For one veteran suffering from post traumatic stress, support comes on four paws. "She knows when I'm having a problem, and she's always there; she's like my right arm," said the recipient of a PTSD service dog, Tim Azzolina.
For another disabled veteran, support came in the form of four wheels "I do a lot of work on these things, but none of them are mine, now I've got mine. With PTSD, I've got things that can occupy my mind, I can ride to church or the store," said the recipient of a custom bike, Michael Mortensen.
Mortensen planned to take his new ride out for a spin on Sunday's Patriot Ride.
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