I live in a small rural community where tractors are regularly seen traveling down back roads and the occasional Amish horse and buggy will pass by. Most folks know their neighbors and you still wave at people as your drive by, whether you know them or not. Community. That’s what small towns across America mean. That also includes your veteran community.
The veteran community and Post that I am a member of will be bringing the Moving Wall to our area next week.
As I sit here typing up press releases and posting updates on Facebook, so many thoughts and memories begin to seep in.
It has been twenty years since my veteran post brought the Moving Wall to our town and with that was our first annual “Ride For Freedom”.
This ride will once again slowly and somberly, make its way through our community and end at the Moving Wall.
Twenty years. It is hard to believe that many years have gone by. A few weeks ago, the Wall Committee held a meeting in the area that the Moving Wall will be set up. We were laying out the space for the Moving Wall to reside as well as planning the landscaping, lighting, and all that goes into preparing for this important event.
As several of us stood talking, a comment was made by one of the Committee members.
“Do you see what I see?” Those of us standing there looked around and said nothing. “Do you notice how many members of the original committee are here this time around, twenty years later?”
As we looked around at the dozen or so gathered, we realized that there were just four of us from that original committee. Myself being one of them, and I’m considered “the kid”.
As the years have passed, members have moved away, drifted away or have passed away. It was a humbling moment for us. The four of us that stood on the same ground we stand year after year, the same ground that the Moving Wall stood upon twenty years ago. Four people representing 3 different generations of veterans.
The changes that have taken place not only within our town, but within all of us; age, health issues, retirements, losses and so much more.
So much has transpired over the past 20 years and yet it feels as if it has been but a few months since we last stood there, planning and preparing for the Moving Wall and the first Ride For Freedom. How has time went by so quickly?
One thing that remains the same and has not changed nor altered over the years; the reason for bringing the Moving Wall and the reason for continuing to host the annual Ride For Freedom.
Never Forget. Two words. Powerful when put together. Two words that can evoke many emotions within a person. Especially for those veterans and others who know just what The Wall means and stands for and just what we ride for.
The Ride; it is a sight to behold, when you catch that first flicker of headlights in the distance, hear the low rumble of engines as the Ride draws near. I always ask folks to be conscious of who is riding passed you, for they are your veterans, your friends, your loved ones. Riding as one, representing those who are Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. They are the sound, the voice, of those who are unable to speak on their own behalf.
This annual Ride is for those who never made it home. This Ride is for those who lost their lives. This Ride is for the families, the friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters in arms. This Ride is for all of them. A thundering reminder to Never Forget.
Time will continue to pass and we will all continue to age, but as long as we are able, we will continue to be a voice for those who need us.
May God Bless America and all who have defended her and have given their all.
Kim Lengling is a local author, Co-Chair of Project Support Our Troops and Co-Founder of Embracing Our Veterans. She can be reached at [email protected].
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