Sunday, May 20, 2012
I wish I could explain it, I'm not sure I can. I'll try, but I'll do it no justice.
Yesterday was the third annual motorcycle Freedom Ride. It was to honor those that give and have given their lives for our country.
I love being in the middle of a bunch of bikers. The leather, the long braided hair, the tattoos and of course the bikes. Being in the midst of such a group I'm able to see something that most, or I assume most, people outside of the group don't see.
I look past the preconceived image and I see the brotherhood, the honor, the genuine friendliness, and people that are real, there is no pretension. Bikers in general are usually looked upon by outsiders as rule breakers, outlaws, drinking, brawling heathens. Yes, there's some of that in the biker "subculture," but it's the exception, not the rule.
In the biker world there is no back biting, no gossiping, no self righteousness. It's a far cry from many of cliques of today in neighborhoods, corporations, the church and the world in general.
We began our day in the parking lot of a Harley dealership in Vancouver, Washington. Isabella and I were surrounded by about 200 other bikes as we started out on our day long journey to Albany, Oregon to give honor to our fallen troops, our veterans, our lost and unknown.
If you've never ridden in a pack of bikes, it's a wonderful feeling. The roar of the pipes is an amazing sound, especially when several hundred bikes are together riding down I-5, or a country lane. I did both yesterday.
In honor of all our troops many of the bikes flew full sized flags behind them, many others had smaller flags. It was awe inspiring. We had wonderful road guards, whose job it was to block oncoming traffic at red lights, on ramps and intersections so that the group of bikes could stay together.
We rode the back roads through Canby, Silverton, and Scio on our way to Albany. In all of the towns were police officers and deputy sheriffs blocking traffic so we could pass in safety.
In Silverton there was a lone officer blocking traffic at the main intersection in the tiny town. He stood at attention and saluted as hundreds of motorcycles roared by carrying the Stars and Stripes of our country. The diva that doesn't do tears, cried at the sight of the young man and his honor for our country and the troops we rode for.
On the back roads for as far as the eyes could see there was a long line of staggered bikes snaking it's way through the beautiful Oregon countryside. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the site but since I was riding myself there was no way I could get pictures while on the bike.
We made a stop and picked up about a hundred more riders and their beautiful machines before making our way to the Albany Memorial.
When we arrived at the memorial we walked the memorial touching the names on the stones for the fallen. We traced the names and the dates with our fingers. We cried at the memorial for the POWs and the MIAs.
After about a half hour hats were removed, the Pledge of Allegiance recited and the Star Spangled Banner sang. It was a beautiful and moving site to see all of the big burly bikers with their hands over their hearts and tears in their eyes.
It was a wonderful day with several hundred of my closest friends. One that I won't soon forget.