Have you ever heard of veteran motorcycle clubs? Many Americans are unaware of the humble and heroic veteran riders who run motorcycle clubs all across the country. Without fanfare or recognition, they organize annual rides to raise money for fallen heroes; build websites and design and sell patches to remember their deceased brothers and sisters; and hold social events to support returning troops and their families.
Some veteran motorcycle clubs are specifically dedicated to serving Marine vets; combat vets, POWs/MIAs, or Navy submarine vets while many other motorcycle clubs honor and serve all veterans, from every branch of the military.
Not every veteran biker rides a Harley, but Harley-Davidson has consistently supported veterans, personal freedom and the American Dream. Harley-Davidson also introduced many vets to the joy and freedom of biking. Harley produced the Harley-Davidson WLA dispatch-rider model for our troops during World War II. Motorcycles surged in demand when the war ended as veterans sought bikes similar to those they had used during service.
A motorcyclist rides his bike during Rolling Thunder 2013 in Washington on May 26, 2013. The 26th Annual Rolling Thunder rumbled into he US capital to show support for veterans and those who have fallen in past and present wars. Some one million riders are expected to gather in Washington during the Memorial Day weekend. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
This Memorial Day, veteran-run motorcycle clubs offer a ray of hope and optimism in the face of troubling reports of the current administration’s abuse and neglect of veterans. There is an investigation into whether 40 veterans died due to unethical Veterans Administration staff practices; veterans have been denied access to the Washington, D.C. memorials that were built to honor them; and the latest report from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that approximately 22 veterans commit suicide daily.
As a Millennial, it is humbling and inspiring to witness veterans of preceding generations—who have already given many years of service to our country—using their bikes to serve the next generation of Millennial vets. Young vets are coming home after repeat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraw with missing limbs and the battle scar of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Syndrome—and seasoned vets on motorcycles are greeting them with support, even if their commander-in-chief is not.
Rain or shine, today’s veteran riders “ride on” and continually find ways to serve. During the winter months, Marine Riders organize “Toys for Tots” drives and many other veteran motorcycle clubs place Christmas wreaths on the tombs of their fallen brothers and sisters at Arlington Cemetery and cemeteries across the nation. Meanwhile, members of the U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club in Jensen Beach, Florida—where the sun shines year round—turn themselves into virtual biking Santas with their annual “Toy Run.”
Last week, thousands of veteran bikers traversed from the West Coast to the East Coast in rides to honor veterans, veteran families and POWs/MIAs—such as the “Carry the Flame Across America Tour,” the “Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom,” and the “Run for the Wall.”
Members of the US military veterans' Rolling Thunder bikers group parade in Washington on May 26, 2013 as the country marks Memorial Day. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Please consider supporting motorcycle clubs and their fundraiser rides. Many clubs have websites where they accept donations for veterans. Even if you are not a veteran or do not own a motorcycle, you can often join in solidarity on any given ride by taking the same path that the bikers take in your car.
Below is a sampling of five upcoming veteran motorcycle club events for you to check out.
Veteran riders: please post a comment beneath this article if you are member of a veteran motorcycle club that is hosting a ride this summer so TheBlaze readers can learn about your event!
Ohio: U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club of Fairborn Ohio will host the 2nd Annual "Fallen Hero Poker Run" on July 26, 2014 in honor of Army Specialist Jesse A. Snow (KIA) who died in the Watapur district of Afghanistan on Nov. 14, 2010 while serving in the 101st Airport Division (Air Assault). Snow was posthumously honored with a Silver Star for heroically saving the lives of three fellow servicemen before insurgents killed him.
Kentucky: U.S. Marine Riders host many events, including one bringing awareness to a living American Prisoner of War, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in June of 2009 through the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Rally on June 29, 2014.
A man salutes as members of the US military veterans' Rolling Thunder bikers group ride past in Washington on May 26, 2013 as the country marks Memorial Day. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Massachusetts: Support Our Soldiers hosts a motorcycle ride, concert and pig roast on July 5, 2014.
Pennsylvania: A Pennsylvania Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association club will host the 11th Annual Homeless Veterans Memorial Ride on July 12, 2014.
Illinois: Purple Heart Riders will co-host their 4th Annual Motorcycle Charity Run on July 12, 2014 to help veterans recover from PTSD, depression and drug addiction.
Thank you to all of our veterans for serving our country. We appreciate your sacrifice and are humbled by your ongoing patriotism and generosity. Ride on!
Chapter 7 of Kieffer's new book published by Random House, "Let Me Be Clear," is dedicated to veterans and troops. Please preorder for an early bird discount.
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