Photo by Edna Clark
By Edna Clark
275 motorcyclists, supporters, and displays came through Van Horn on Friday, May 20, on their way to Washington D.C. Arlington National Cemetery, where they will lay a wreath to commemorate the lives of other veterans, which will mark the end of this journey. These dedicated people make up the Run for the Wall (RFTW) XXVIII, a group of military veterans and families that ride for those who can’t – the Prisoners of Wars & Missing in Action of our nation’s armed forces.
Brenda Hinojos with the Van Horn Convention Center hosted the travelers who enjoyed a tasty meal, rested, and had fellowship. Margie’s Bakery, the Town of Van Horn, and Porter’s Grocery Store donated food and drinks for the meal. Mrs. Patti Scott, Miss Pam Young, and other local citizens assisted in setting up the visit for these traveling men and women.
Pastor Bobby, West Texas RFTW Coordinator, and his helpers from El Paso provided burgers, hotdogs, and all the fixings before the ride participants headed east. Several of the riders were on their first journey across the country; they were amazed at the enormity of our great State of Texas. One thing that the riders all had in common was the desire to honor the veterans of the United States.
Route Coordinator – SR, Joe Chicken Joe Connors, dedicated this year’s trip to The 22. Unbeknownst to this writer and many others, 22 veterans, both combat and non-combat, commit suicide every day. Connors and others are pushing for more legislation to increase mental health awareness for veterans to combat The 22.
Additionally, during this year’s journey, the RFTW is delivering a Fallen Heroes’ Cart from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans. These carts were first introduced by Alaska Airlines to transport the remains of fallen military personnel. Special handling, including loading and off-loading of caskets, and care of families accompanying their loved one are part of the program. Alaska Airlines’ mechanics and baggage handlers observed how the remains of our Fallen Heroes were shuttled to and from aircraft. They felt that there should be a better, more respectful manner to transport this precious cargo. These caring people formed an all-volunteer group called Alaska Airlines Fallen Soldier Program, dedicated to providing a more dignified and honorable way to care for our fallen heroes on the way to their final resting place. According to Route Coordinator Connors, there is a surplus of volunteers located at numerous airports who are available to pay their final respects to our nation’s Fallen Heroes.
T he last stop of the RFTW in town was at the Veteran’s Memorial in front of the Clark Hotel and Museum. An Honor Guard composed of the five branches of the military, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard laid a wreath commemorating all those men and women who gave their lives while fighting for the United States of America.