With COVID-19 running rampant throughout the USA, many events for Memorial Day are canceled. I was determined to find a way to carry on so folks would know Memorial Day was not lost or forgotten. Speaking with four police departments, and explaining the plan, we began recruiting Legion Riders. I'd hoped we'd have at least 20 motorcycles to ride. Almost immediately I received confirmations the Riders were on board! It was so encouraging to see such enthusiasm!
I created electronic maps for the communities we would ride through and sent to the respective police departments asking for review. In order to make this easy we decided to begin each ride on the hour, starting at 9 a.m. in Delavan, Wis. We proceeded to Elkhorn, East Troy and Mukwonago.
The squad car led us through residential areas, running the siren to bring attention to the ride. The motorcycles would not be honking horns, as this is a solemn day and not one for celebration but observance.
As we lined up at our first staging area we had 66 motorcycles! Of those, 12 came from a local CMA chapter. What a turn-out! Bikes came from as far as 45 miles to join us.
We did not advertise the ride due to the stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols. But just prior to Memorial Day that order was nullified and things began to open up. I put a few articles on social media, asked people to share and they did! Not a traditional crowd for Memorial Day, but many people came out. Tears aplenty when we saw veterans saluting the flags. People in wheelchairs standing as Old Glory passed by and many with their hand over their heart – paying tribute to the fallen soldiers we honored that day.
We were invited by Commander Michelle Adams of Post 375 for a brief lunch. Days earlier we’d been asked if we could
start the Memorial Day parade in Rochester, Wis. So following a lunch break, we rode to Rochester and led off to a cheering crowd. Our final plan was to ride to Union Grove to VA Cemetery. Many of us put flags at headstones just days before and it was fitting for the Riders to do a slow ride through the grounds, paying our respects. It was heartwarming to see families and friends of the fallen servicemembers, acknowledge the flags as we slowly drove by.
Although our country remains in turmoil, it was encouraging to see so many people pay their respects. I pray we never have another Memorial Day like this. But if we do, we will find another way to come together to honor our fallen veterans!