Run For The Wall are Veterans of our Armed Forces, predominantly Vietnam Vets, who ride their motorcycles to the Viet Nam Wall In Washington, DC every Memorial Day Week. Their motto is We Ride For Those Who Can't in memory of the POWs and those still MIA from all the wars.
They start in Los Angeles and pick up riders along the southern and central routes as they come across the country which culminates with a ceremony at Arlington, followed by a convergence of Veterans at The Vietnam War Memorial Wall. (over 300,000 bikes including those of The Rolling Thunder ended up in DC this year!)
The following are images I took of our Veterans at the TA Truck Stop in Knoxville and 2 days of updates from Sgt Maj Doug Lyvere , US Marine Retired. Doug is the brother of Ginger who organized our DiVAs! (Dames in Volunteer Activities!) group to make over 200 sandwiches for our Veterans.
Day 6 of Run For The Wall by
Sgt Maj, Doug Lyvere, US Marine Retired:
RG= Road Guard. The ride leaders.
FNG = Fine New Guy; a new rider. In Viet Nam, FNG= F’ing New Guy (because they screw up everything)!
FD = Fire Dept
LEO = Law Enforcement Officer
What a day - I'll skip the morning stuff, mostly, as its always the same. Today they read off a half dozen names from 1968, same day. In 1968, in Vietnam, we (combined services) lost over 14,000 of our young and finest.
Reminds everyone of one of the reasons we ride.
Today we also had our first accident - RG pretty banged up, and probably will not finish this years run, and one rider slightly injured (back up and riding). Details when I see the final report.
Almost everyday we see certain things over and over, and today we probably saw everything at one time, plus a whole lot more. When we left Monroe, Louisiana, we were shepherded first by the Louisiana State Police (and LEO's) and then by the Mississippi State Police (and LEO's). Sit back and think about this. Our guesstimated scoot count, was 650 to 900. The Police blocked all the lanes to give us full access. Then they shut down EVERY on ramp AND kept a rolling road block behind us so we would not have cars, trucks, whatever causing any delays. This was for approx 200 miles!! In front of our pack were 50 to 75 motor officers, in formation, with blue and whites flashing. Our RG's still had duties to perform and we rode with our flashers going. I had to go from the back of the pack to the front, at one point, and with a Police Officer riding with me, at slightly higher speed (>:-} ), it took 17 miles. By my math, that's about an 8.5 mile long footprint. As we passed the on ramps, many of the officers either outright held a salute, or stood with their hand over their heart (as did the FD's that came out). Many civilians and vets did the same thing. Again, in stretches of freeway where there was no sign of habitation, we would see families that had been sitting there waiting for us just so they could wave as we went flying by. Little kids, teenagers, adults, grandparents, veterans, men, women - some with flags, some with signs, some with nothing but a camera. All showing their love and respect for veterans and service members. Again on many of the over passes - jammed with people holding flags and cheering. One over pass looked like a complete company of Marines. Part of the way we had a Huey slick (Medevac) chopper flying with us, a Huey Cobra flying with us, and a couple of fixed wing aircraft. More people than before by a long shot. 200 miles. Mid day we went off the freeway to the Jackson (MS) Harley Davidson dealership for lunch. The owner makes his sales floor into a restaurant (for 1000 Riders and passengers).
Chicken quarters with potato salad and rice with alligator sauce. For 1000 riders and their passengers. Prior to lunch we got gassed up at the Shell Station next door for FREE. All paid for by the owner (owns both places).
Assuming 800 bikes - that's an easy $7500.00 - plus food plus him closing his sale operation while we are there. Behind his place he has set up some military hardware that the riders can shoot up a stack of wood. He pays for the ammo. A Memorial walk that he paid for. And when we first arrived, several hundred people waiting for us. And the US Army's Black Daggers parachute team skydiving (for us). A segment of the US Army horse patrol showing their riding skills. A civil war reenactment. Flights in the choppers. Etc. Guest speakers - Mayor, Bataan Death March survivors, WWII, Korea, and 'Nam survivors. Former POW's, Medal of Honor recipients. Senior Officers and Senior enlisted from the local units.
Then we got back on the road and went to Meridian (with a continuation of the freeway escort) and the "Agricultural" building for more free food and drinks. Huge portions. And equally as well managed and paid for. On the way into the site many people again, holding signs, flags, cheering over and over again. Whenever we stop, dozens and dozens of people come to thank us, to shake our hands - over and over again. They give us cards, flags, hugs, water (ice cold).
Every veteran responds to this attention - and all in a positive way. Its heartwarming and for many of the Vietnam Vets, is a beginning of the healing - its a lifetime of healing, not a quick fix. Knowing that people care this much is fantastic. The voices in The Wall go softer and more gentle everyday of the Run For The Wall.
The Mission Rules.
SOME GAVE ALL, SOME STILL ARE. NEVER FORGET!
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