What an amazing NVAR this year!
As we have in the past, we saw lots of Veterans, visited with school students and participated in local memorial services. But because of different and changing COVID safety protocols we were never exactly sure what each day would bring. Some Veterans Homes that we thought would be closed to us, brought the residents outside to meet with us. A couple of Hospitals and Homes that we thought would be open, brought their patients and residents to the windows to wave and cheer us on as we rode our motorcycles next to their windows. With some facilities, like in Indiana, it was pretty much like a normal year….lunch with the Veterans, lots of stories and laughter.
Due to a two year hiatus (no NVAR in 2021 and 2022), everyone on the ride was excited about again showing our Veterans the respect they deserve and letting them know that they are not forgotten. And the folks who helped us accomplish our mission were equally excited to get us back together again as a family that works together for a common good.
The Veterans Administration person who took us into Mather VAMC near Sacramento said it well in an email she sent to us: “Please thank the members of the National Veterans Awareness Ride for stopping by Mather to visit with Voluntary Services and to tour our facilities and interact with Veterans. Your team brought joy to the Veterans and listening to their stories and seeing the interactions was refreshing. Thank you for supporting Veterans and NorCal.”
And another nice note from the Reno VAMC: “It was such a great experience. Your group was able to put smiles on both Veterans and staff faces. Your group is always so courteous. The Veteran who received the Coming Home Medal from your group will remember the day forever. He talked about it daily until his discharge a week later. Thank you, again!!! I look forward to next year.”
That, folks, is what it’s all about.
From the first day in California to the last day in Washington, DC, the key words were “Stay Flexible”.
Our State Coordinators did a terrific job managing the changes at the VA facilities, the wonderful police escorts, the dining spots, the memorials, the schools and all of the other items on their list of things that are necessary for a successful National Veterans Awareness Ride.
We had a good number of new participants in this year’s NVAR. Some rode all the way from California to DC and some rode through one, two or three states. All of them found the experience to be positively emotional and gratifying. And they promised to be back next year for another NVAR.
We had a couple interesting, new experiences on this year’s NVAR. Attached is a photo of the new procedures at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Instead of allowing wreath laying at the Tomb, each person who wants to pay their respects at the Tomb is given a flower that the person can lay in front of the Tomb. Then, once every hour or two, the flowers are gathered up by representatives of the US Army and placed at the base of the Tomb. It’s a very nice, new tradition that allows everyone to come close to the Tomb and pay their respects.
Also attached is a photo of part of our group enjoying Sunday morning breakfast in the backyard of Carolyn and Steve Bowen. They live a couple blocks from the staging area for Rolling to Remember. The Bowen family treated the riders to bagels, donuts, fruit, juice and coffee. A great place to hang out till it was time to head back to the area for the start of the ride through downtown Washington, DC.
One other photo is attached for no particular reason other than it looks really cool. The NVAR cruising down the highway. Oh yeah….
For those of you who could not participate this year (and even those who did ride), we urge you to check out the Sit Reps on the NVAO Website (nvao.us). Mike Rinowski (our Sit Rep Manager) worked closely with our Webmaster (Roger Granbois) and published wonderful logs and photos of each day on the NVAR. A big thanks to both of them.
1. Larry “Crazy Larry” MacKay has resigned from the Board of Directors of the National Veterans Awareness Organization. Larry has been involved on the Board and in the NVAR for many years, as a Road Guard and as the Road Guard Captain. Thank you Larry for your years of service.
2. In a special election, Jim “Slingblade” Grant was elected to the NVAO Board of Directors. Jim will be transitioning into the role of Treasurer of the NVAO as Buzz Neeb transfers the responsibilities to him.
3. Although, in the past, we have not sold NVAR merchandise through the mail, we have some Ride Shirts left over from this year’s NVAR and to reduce the inventory in the Chase Trailer, we are going to offer the opportunity for you to buy shirts through the mail. The short sleeve shirts are $15 plus $10 shipping/postage for a total of $25. The long sleeve shirts are $20 plus $10 shipping/postage for a total of $30. For each shirt that you buy, we will enclose this year’s NVAR Ride Pin. Attached are photos of the design on the front and the back of the shirts. If you would like a shirt(s), send an email to email@example.com describing the shirt(s) that you’d like (short sleeve or long sleeve and what size(s). Jerry will respond asap telling you that we do or don’t have the desired shirt in the inventory. If we do, please send a check to Jerry Conner, 1032 Dinsmore Road, Winnetka, IL 60093. A special thanks to the unbelievably fit young man who modeled the shirt for the photos.
4. Nancy and Gary Croft (NVAR Illinois State Coordinator) are putting together an NVAR Reunion in Perryville, MO over the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 2,4,5). Many more details on this event will be coming as the details get worked out. Mark your calendars.
5. Don Jenkins is thinking about hosting a West Coast NVAR Reunion in Oregon this summer. He doesn’t have a date yet but he’d like to know who might be interested in attending a West Coast NVAR get-together. If you think you’d like to attend, please email Don at firstname.lastname@example.org There’s no obligation at this point, Don just wants a rough idea of the number of folks who’d enjoy a couple of days with NVAR friends
That’s it for now, be careful out there, Never Forget.
Board of Directors – National Veterans Awareness Organization