Run for the Wall is an annual Memorial Day event in Washington DC, where bikers from all over travel to DC to remember those heroes that gave their lives for freedom. Today, some friends and I went to observe and participate. This was my first time at the event. There’s a lot of information about the event at the link at the beginning of this paragraph.
We rode to DC, about 120 miles from home. We were a group of about 10 cycles and rode in formation. We ride two to a lane with one rider just ahead of the other (in case we need to switch to single-file). Formation riding is pretty neat – you’ve always got the people ahead of you looking out for things. You also don’t have to worry so much about not being seen (always a worry when riding). In the photo, our group is in the right lane, being passed by a group on the left. We tend to ride at moderate speeds – we’re all old and responsible, I suppose.
Once in DC, we had to find a place to park. We were able to shoehorn our bikes between others parked at the curb. We saw many varieties of motorcycle – most of them were Harleys, of course. We did see some fancy and exotic motorcycles, along with a lot of trikes, too. We parked near a classic chopper. The word “chopper” derives from the “chopping” off of various accessories that are deemed unnecessary. These gizmos complicate the motorcycle, increasing maintenance and taking away from that desired pure motorcycle experience. The bike in the photo is one example. Note that turn signals as well as those heavy transmission pulley guards have been artfully removed, leading to a much cleaner look. The standard-issue chromed steel kick stand has been replaced with one made of renewable materials – this biker gets extra points for being green. Our motorcycles were behind this one – John was securing his motorcycle and looked up for this photo.
The “Wall” – a memorial to our Vietnam war dead is a dark granite wall with the names of each service member that died during the war inscribed into the marble. There were volunteers there with ladders, using paper and pencil to trace requested names for visitors. This memorial chokes me up, not just because of its starkness, but if you look at the top of the wall, you realize that the names are all below the level of the ground, as if their names were buried, too.
A close-up of the wall. I was speaking with John and mentioned that I had no close friends whose names ended up inscribed in that dark granite, but if I had been born 5 years earlier, it would have been much more likely. The war, as well as the draft, ended while I was in high school.
I don’t think that I’ve ever been to DC without a stop at the Lincoln Memorial. What an awesome leader.
The World War II memorial. In case you can’t read that inscription, this is what it says, “We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.” – General George C Marshall.
What an awesome quote.
At about noon, the parade of cycles started. Many of the bikes flew US and POW/MIA flags. It was still going at about 1:30, when our group joined the parade for a few blocks – our bikes were stuck behind the parade barricades, and it was the only way out.
To get a better idea, I shot a short (40 sec or so) video of the bikes as they went by. Turn your speakers way up.
While we were walking, we had considered walking over to Arlington National Cemetery (link to some cool history about Arlington), but were prevented by the barriers set up for the cycle parade.
Perhaps we might catch a glimpse of the President, dropping by to pay his respects.
Oh, that’s right – he’s on vacation again…. (can you tell that I’m really cheesed off about that?)
Tomorrow, while you’re firing up that grill and burning your burgers, take a moment or so and remember those who gave their lives to preserve freedom – not just here, but all over the world.
Enjoy the holiday,