Memorial Day kicks of the summer season with everything red, white and blue, from flags, to t-shirts to picnic supplies. We look forward to enjoying all things American – hamburgers, hotdogs, going to the lake or the pool. Good food and great family fun!
For the past few years, a chorus of motorcyclers have come to Cookeville a few days early to remind us of what Memorial Day is really about. Run for the Wall riders roared down Jefferson Avenue Monday afternoon on their way to the Leslie Towne Center for dinner. Our family joined others waiting anxiously by the street, flags in hand, poised to wave at the riders as they passed. We pondered on how many riders would come through, the kids looking and listening for the first glimpse of the group. But did we really understand their mission or the personal sacrifice that their ride represents? Did we fully grasp the passion for their cause or the memories of those they represent?
The Run for the Wall mission is this: “To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world.” One of the “ambassadors” of the group stopped by to give us a token of their ride through Cookeville. She wiped tears from her eyes while distributing the souveniers and thanking us for our support. We were humbled by the tears that came just because of our presence that afternoon.
The group who “rides for those who can’t” will arrive in Washington D.C. Memorial Day weekend, gathering at the Vietnam Memorial Wall and Arlington Cemetery. They will do what they have done for the last 27 years, complete a journey that demands personal sacrifice, celebrates the freedom we enjoy, and honors and advocates for those who have sacrificed so much for it. We’re grateful to them for including our town on this journey, helping us prepare to celebrate this Memorial Day with a humble heart, and encouraging us all to treasure our freedom everyday.