Patriot Guard Riders Won't Be at Miners' Memorial

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Patriot Guard Riders are known for helping to lead funeral processions, and standing in silent honor with their American Flags. But they won't be at this weekends Upper Big Branch Mine Memorial.

The ride captain, Pat Hanifin, says he sat down with someone from Gov. Joe Manchin's office. During that discussion, he learned that --because of overwhelming security concerns with high-ranking federal officials -- it was just not logistically possible for them to be a part of the event.

Hanifin says it was tough to hear because some family members of fallen miners had asked for them to be there.

"It is a great disappointment that we are not able to do what we were requested to do," he said. "However, I felt no sense whatsoever either from the Governor's office, or any indication that it would be a problem for the Secret Service, that we were going to be there. It was just the fact that they were challenged with security issues that would not allow us to participate."

Hanifin says they also tried to attend by showing support alongside the road but -- because families were taking a different route and would not see them -- the major effort did not seem practical.

Several members, including Hanifin, say they are truly sad that they won't be at there. But they want the miners' families to know they continue to be in their thoughts and prayers.

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