This July, American Legion Riders from Chapter 31 in Salinas, California - and their supporters - will embark on a cross-country ride on behalf of the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery (CCCVC), located on the former Fort Ord. Over a period of 37 days, riding through 21 states and the District of Columbia, and covering close to 13,000 miles, the riders will spread the word and seek the support of patriotic Americans to raise much needed funding for Phase Two of the cemetery. Phase Two will allow for in-ground burials at the CCCVC, which is currently limited to receiving only the cremated remains of veterans and veteran spouses.
It may seem odd to solicit funding for a cemetery in California from folks in places as far away as Bar Harbor, Maine and Key West, Florida. But the riders have three things going for them in their quest. First is the fact that scattered across the country are many of the 1.5 million soldiers who took their basic training or perhaps their Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Ord and they still have an emotional attachment to that place. Secondly, in fact, at this point in time, even with just the "inurnments" that have taken place, 175 individual Zip Codes from across the country are represented there. The appeal of being laid to rest on the rolling hills above the Monterey Bay is strong.
And lastly, the riders know that they can rely on the innate patriotism of the American people, just as they experienced on their 2017 sojourn. All across the country, when citizens from California to Mississippi to Maine and back again heard the story and saw the commitment of these riders to do right by veterans at that last best time to show respect - they stepped up. Patriots everywhere reached into their wallets, their purses - even their tip jars - and gave what they could. And every bit helped. The riders expect no less this time.
This year's ride is made all the more special because of a relationship that exists between the Epic Ride and the KIA Honor Flag Organization. Along the route, the riders will be meeting with Gold Star Families, who have lost loved ones from as far back as WW II all the way through the current conflicts and presenting them with "KIA / America Remembers" flags in honor of their sacrifice.
Also, learn more about the KIA flags program at www.kiahonorflag.org