Retired Postal worker and U.S. Air
Force veteran Doug Lehman is a member of the
Kansas Patriot Guard. The Guard was formed in
2005 as a response to a group that stages
protests at military funerals.
“With all the families are going through,”
Lehman says, “they shouldn’t have to deal with
disturbances at that solemn moment.” He recalls
one occasion when he and more than 100 other
Patriot Guard members on motorcycles led a
funeral procession that was miles long through a
rural area, watched by farmers and their
children who stood by the road and waved flags.
Once at the cemetery, the Patriot Guard forms a
barrier between the protesters and the family of
the fallen soldier. Lehman says, “Any comfort we
can give the family to help them get through
this tough time, I just feel that I owe it to
them.” They also serve the families of Police
and Firefighters killed in the line of duty.
The protesters claim to be Christians, acting in
the name of God. Lehman’s religious affiliation,
and that of the rest of the Kansas Patriot Guard
members, is unknown, although they are to
“. . . strive to remain humble
and reverent, keeping in mind the purpose of the
mission.” But I know which group is acting
like Christians. One group is adding to the
misery of grieving families; the other is
showing respect. One group is acting out of
selfish motives, for cheap publicity; the other
is remaining in the background. Everyone has
heard of the protesters who seek to disrupt
military funerals; but even though the Kansas
Patriot Guard has been in existence for ten
years, I’d never heard of them until recently.
Some of us could learn a great deal from the
Kansas Patriot Guard. When Jesus taught in the
synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30), he read
from what we know today as the book of Isaiah.
We’re all familiar with the passage he read that
begins “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,”
(Luke 4:18, Isa. 61:1) but immediately after the
portion Jesus read, it says
“. . . to comfort all who mourn;”
(Isa. Vs. 2b ESV). Comfort for those who mourn,
not confront them, and not add to their pain.
The Bible also has much to say about respect.
Mostly, it refers to respect for God, persons in
authority, and elders, but it also refers to
respect for neighbors and others. Paul told the
Philippians to “Do nothing from selfish ambition
or conceit, but in humility count others more
significant than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3 ESV).
We are called to be witnesses for Christ, and we
need to defend our faith at times but we don’t
need to be offensive in our defense.
Peter wrote, “Have no fear of them, nor be
troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the
Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a
defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for
the hope that is in you; yet do it with
gentleness and respect, having a good
conscience,” (1 Pet. 3:14b-16a ESV). Gentleness
and respect are two things that are sorely
lacking from the protesters at military
funerals, and to me they give other Christians a
They certainly don’t believe what I do or,
apparently, read the same Bible. I pray that my
conduct and example help to draw others to
Christ rather than to repel them. We have a God
who “. . . heals the
brokenhearted / and binds up their wounds.”
(Psa. 147:3 ESV) and who commands us to do the
same. Jesus told the people, “‘Pay attention to
what you hear: with the measure you use, it will
be measured to you, and still more will be added
to you.’” (Mark 4:24b ESV). In the same way, the
comfort and healing we show is the comfort and
healing we can expect to receive (Mark 12:31).
If we can’t show love for others, who we can
see, how can we say we love God, who we can’t
see (1 John 4:20). We have a savior who gave
everything for us (1 John 3:16; Gal. 1:3-5); the
very least we can do in response is to show
love, compassion and respect for others. By our
actions, we can show that Christ rules in our
lives and that we have his love in us.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all
comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction,
so that we may be able to comfort those who are
in any affliction, with the comfort with which
we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor.