Ride ‘for those who can’t’
Hundreds participate in the 31st annual Run for the Wall ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
For the 31st consecutive year, veterans and other military advocates rode across the country on their motorcycles for all of the fallen soldiers unable to do so.
Each year, hundreds of riders travel from California to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This year’s ride started on May 15 and ended May 25 in Washington, D.C. The annual stop at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo., serves as a midway point in the more than 2,500-mile journey.
The Run for the Wall was started in 1989 as an effort by Vietnam veterans James Gregory and Bill Evans, who traveled across the United States on motorcycles to talk to local radio stations, TV stations and newspapers about the thousands of men and women still unaccounted for from all U.S. wars.
Ty Harmon, a six-year Army veteran, said she took part in the ride to honor her fallen brethren.
“Being a combat veteran myself and losing soldiers while I was there … I had family members who served in the military,” Harmon told Land Line Now’s Terry Scruton. “I really wanted to ride for those who can’t, which is our motto.”
According to the Run for the Wall website, it is the largest and longest cross-country motorcycle run of its kind in the world.
The ride is divided into three routes. About 1,800 typically participate in at least one of the routes each year.
Alfredo Gomez, a U.S. Army veteran, has traveled with Run for the Wall since 2013.
“I started riding motorcycles, and I wanted to give back to my veteran community,” Gomez said. “I’m currently on the outreach team. We ride up ahead of everyone else, and we meet with Gold Star families and offer condolences on the loss of their loved ones. We thank them … I hate saying thank you, because how can you thank someone who lost a loved one for our freedom, but we do everything we can to give them small tokens of our appreciation.”
David Talley, an OOIDA member, took part in his 13th Run for the Wall in May.
“The reason for Run for the Wall is for POW and MIA awareness and to promote healing for veterans of all wars,” Talley told Land Line Now.
Despite rumors, organizers said this will not be the last year for the Run for the Wall. Instead, Rolling Thunder, a 2-mile demonstration parade held the Sunday before Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., will not continue after this year.
“Run for the Wall will operate all of its routes in 2019 … AND BEYOND (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and so on),” the group wrote on its website. “We will always ride to Washington, D.C., every year. We will always lay our ‘Mission Complete’ plaque at the apex of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. We will still go to Arlington National Cemetery. We will still wash the Wall. We will still gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a group photo. We will always welcome anyone that wants to ride with us and join us on any of our three routes, especially our younger veterans. We will always ‘Ride for Those who Can’t.’
Talley added, “When Rolling Thunder ends, we’re going to keep doing what we do.” LL