This year's Tribute to Fallen Soldiers ride was August 11-12 and started in Medford. Skylar and I hit the road on Friday and nearly crashed after a chunk of wood flew off a trailer in front of us, got lost more than a few times, accidentally fell into some rum and tequila a few nights, had some spectacular BBQ and met some totally awesome people who were all there to show their support.
The jest of this ride is you spend two days visiting families of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, whether theirs was a loss in battle, while stationed or at home after. All the motorcycles and riders line up and then walk as a group to the families homes where the families are presented with a plaque for their soldier and thanked for their contribution, service and sacrifice. That alone is enough to make a strong person falter. Some of these families have recent losses, and for some, it has been awhile but the goal is to show them that their loved ones are appreciated and have not and will not be forgotten.
I stood in the back of the pack the few times I actually went with the group (go ahead, call me a chicken)...but most of the time I was not even close enough to hear what was being said and only my imagination showed me the faces of the families. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful and their losses were not minimized. As I stood a safe distance I watched as many leather clad motorcyclists slowly fell apart. Over and over. And yet they continued on to the next stop, ready to keep giving back.
|At a stop in Roseburg, OR (those curbs are very important or I would have cropped them out)|
I saw families accepting condolences, appreciation, and heartfelt words from total strangers. I marveled on how resilient people are, and how tragedy can ruin someone and yet someone else can take that same experience and do something wonderful with it to honor those who have been taken away.
There is something about seeing strong men walking away from the group, sunglasses in one hand and the other wiping tears that cements the reason for this ride into one’s mind. It isn’t an event to raise money for a specific person, isn’t something that is done in order to gain publicity or to build ones self up, but instead to build up a nation, to remind us all that each and every person who has served our country, living or dead, should be remembered and honored as the true heros that they are. So stand up, take a moment of silence to reflect upon those you know and don’t, then do your part to make a difference. It isn’t asking much considering the sacrifice others have given and the families who are left behind to mourn the loss daily while the rest of us continue on blissfully unaware of the pain, loss and sorrow.
|The Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Riders in Lane County|
The Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Ride is one of those rare rides that means much more than anyone could ever explain. It's not a "little parade" done out of selfishness and greed. It's a chance for each and every person to say "Thank you" to those who have served. This ride needs your support to ensure everyone is remembered and that every sacrifice has not been in vain. Join them next year for the Torch Run or for the Fallen Soldier Ride that will take place in August. It’s an experience you won’t forget. And if you don't ride, that's not a big deal. You can still help. Go to their website (http://tributetofallensoldiers.com/) and donate, volunteer, sponsor, or just plant a flag in your yard.
Special thanks to the law enforcement community who helped along the way. You have no idea how much SAFER this ride was with your participation and support. THANK YOU for being there, for doing your part and for showing each and every one of us how wonderful you really are. You really made a difference and are appreciated.
|Skylar with a couple Douglas County Deputies who helped along the way.|