Returning soldier Michael Schatzman thought he was getting a steak dinner but got something better instead—a welcome home from his community.
Mokena resident Schatzman recently returned from an overseas deployment with the U.S. Army, so a fancy dinner with his parents and new wife seemed natural. As did a route that took them by .
"We were pulling up and he said, 'Oh, there's something going on at the church,'" Schatzman's mother Kathy said.
What was waiting was a flag line of friends, family members and well-wishing members of the community and from the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcyclists that arrange welcome-home processions for returning soldiers.
For Kathy Schatzman, the day meant her son was really home.
"It's the best day since he was born," Kathy Schatzman said.
Home for Michael Schatzman means his wife Cassie, 19. The couple's first anniversary is this Valentine's Day.
"They got married the 14th; he left the 27th," Cassie's mother Kelly Fremouw-Lee said. "(Cassie) was on her own at Fort Riley from July 4 until he came home."
After each member of the flag line met Michael and Cassie Schatzman, trading handshakes, thanks and hugs, the whole group went to in a police-led procession.
Passer-by Patti Wasek said she always finds the Patriot Guard Riders processions moving, even though she does not know Schatzman.
"I'm tearing up here," she said.