Lincoln, Korea, Vietnam Memorials, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – Washington D.C. & Arlington Virginia
Saturday morning in D.C. with sunshine and short sleeves. It’s all part of the adventure.
We had a short riders meeting with caution to riders new to D.C. traffic, and reminders to the return riders. Our road guards will not cover our passage, and we must be alert to traffic and lights.
Dan “Sweetness” Kress decided one more tribute was appropriate to the agreement of all:
A suicide bomb attack outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan killed 13 service members one Aug. 23, 2021.
Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pidchardo, 25, of Lawrence MA
Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento CA
Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City UT
Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio CA
Cpl. Daegan W. Page,23, Omaha NE
Cpl. Humberto A Sanchez, 22 of Logansport IN
Lance Cpl. David L Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo TX
Lance Cpl. Jared M Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles MO
Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20 of Jackson WY
Lance Cpl. Dylan R Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga CA
Lance Cpl. Kareem. M Nikoui, 20, of Norco CA
Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviet, 22, of Berlin Heights OH
Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corry TN
That’s too many young Americans. Remember them.
Wayne’s final story to the riders was short and simple; it pertained to the thoughts and prayers of a soldier in combat; of his recognition that God is his savior.
It took a mile to shake off the night’s chill that remained in the air as riders rolled into our nation’s capital. Both vehicle and tourist traffic was light around the memorials. Riders secured their kickstands so not to sink in the grass parking lot between the Lincoln and Vietnam memorials.
The groups stalled slowly into the realm of the VietnamVeterans Memorial, aka The Wall. The east and west wings of The Wall stretched out with the grayed cut of over 58,000 names a slight contrast in the gloss black wall. There were few visitors down there, which offered a full panorama. As I mentioned previously, the Wall Gang dedicated their ride from Michigan City to Allan Moore. A poster of Allan, signed by all riders, was placed at the base of the panel with his name. He is not forgotten.
The Wall rises from eight inches at its tips to 10.1 feet at the apex. Under the cover of cloud or in the brilliance of sunshine, you become a part of The Wall; your reflection is absorbed by the names cut into it, and reflected from the space around them. At the request of Vito RAcanelli’s wife, Paul “Buzz” Neeb, placed Vito’s vest at the apex of The Wall. Vito was committed to supporting veterans and their families.
A photo of our Brother Patrick “Trick” Gordon, who the NVAR was dedicated to, was placed at the apex along with an NVAR hat.
They are not forgotten. Nor are over 58,000 men and women who surround them; and more continue to die from the affects of Agent Orange, a chemical used during the Vietnam War. Nor are the 22 who commit suicide each day. Two hundred and twenty two veterans, active and non-active, committed suicide while we rode across the country. We must do more to be available and to help to them.
Riders returned from their respectful visits to other memorials for departure to Arlington National Cemetery. On arrival, Jerry found a line of buses in our regular privileged parking spot, which an attendant quickly resolved.
First on the schedule was a wreath laying at the grave of MSGT Brad Clemmons, the decorated son of Dave and Brenda Clemmons, who gave all for his country. Surrounding Brad, are thousands of grave markers, and before many are friends and family of the fallen, many wives lay on blankets with a child, obviously there for the day. They are not forgotten.
A visit to the Tomb of the Unknown was next. Riders packed onto trams and listened to Arlington history on the ride up the hill. Veteran riders are well versed in this history! The format, for lack of a better description, regarding the Tomb Guard, the changing of the guard, and the placement of a wreath had changed.
The Tomb Guard now paced and changed on the opposite side of the Tomb. The placement of wreaths was no longer a ceremony; instead, visitors were given a flower and then moved into a line to respectfully place a flower about ten feet in front of the Tomb. This new procedure moved along well, with many positive comments.
More history was shared on the tram ride down the hill, and then it was off for an eighty mile ride through Virginia to the D.C. Ramblers new clubhouse for lunch. The D.C. Ramblers have hosted the NVAR for years before my time of a decade, now. They recently purchased, not just a nice clubhouse, but a facility with a pole building under which lunch was served.
And that ended the NVAR 2022. It began with known uncertainties, but ended with a level of success. We spent time visiting veterans across America, shared our mission to school kids, and paid our respects at cemeteries and memorials. Staff and directors of veterans facilities we only passed through with revved engines and blaring horns, informed us of the positive impact we made on the residents and patients. They looked forward to our visit, and we look forward to the next, more intimate, visit. In the meantime; remember the fallen. Thank a vet. Be an American worth their sacrifice.
God Bless the Veterans & their families, and God Bless America
Thank You & Never Forget – Mike (Track) Rinowski