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Monday, May 26, 2008

RFTW 5/24 & 25 & 26 (Final Post for 2008)

This is the last blog for this year.

Three days, again, as the last two days - blur. 24th - up at 0415 and staging bikes. This is the last day on the road so you can feel a lightening up of the tension. Its about a 260 mile run (3 legs) but not much going on than moving. In Tom's Brook we meet up with the Southern Route group and head off for Arlington. The Advance Group, after getting everyone moving, zips off to Arlington and the staging area. Pulling into Arlington we're greeted by much of the Southern Route Riders, the support crews, and many of the locals. We actually pull into a parking lot across from the host hotel, stage and then in small groups, zip across. Kick stands down, relax, check into hotels and then a half dozen different activities for people. My oldest daughter joins me (along with her husband and my youngest grandson) and we go the Sunset Parade at Marine Barracks. The next morning - one group to Arlington for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - we are the only group allowed into Arlington Cemetery on our bikes. Another group down to Marine Museum at Quantico. And another group - etc. There are so many things for us to do you have zero down time, thankfully. Trip to the Wall is not pretty - 100,000 + visitors makes it difficult but we do our End of Mission - leave our POW flag (we brought it all the way!). Evening dinner at a local church.

Sunday Morning - up at 4, stage ALL bikes. 6:30 - launch to the Pentagon for the 21st Annual Rolling Thunder. I stayed behind as I had some obligations but made it to the Mall at 1200 and The WAllwatched 3 hours of bikes coming by - 400,000 plus motorcycles (latest count). Very impressive and has to be seen live.The Mission is over for this year. The RFTW is an amazing event - well organized - well executed. As a new Road Guard I made a few mistakes. Hopefully I'll be invited back to do next years. What a bunch of people. The leadership has their acts wired. The Run people can not be beat. And the rest of the people - sacrificing their time, money, and emotion - its a huge family that jells perfectly. And, they carry a message that is vitally important!! Its been my honor and pleasure to ride with this group and the staff, all of which are great individuals. A very well trained group that hopefully I will be able to mimic. I hope you all have got something out of my daily postings. Next year, join me on the run.

In closing - tonight I went by The Wall, after dark. Still pretty busy, lots of people, including some kids not being respectful - I talked to a Ranger and they were asked to leave. A woman asked me to pose with her little girl in front of the Wall. I visited the 3 service men statue - on watch and looking to the Wall for their comrades in arms. The Three Nurses Memorial was covered with flowers. I left the two packets (for two different Marines) at their panel's. I saluted. And I visited. I listened, I heard, I saw. In an earlier blog I misquoted something - "Never again will one generation of veteran's abandon another". Not in my lifetime. On this Memorial Day, thank you my brothers and sisters, for your sacrifices. I will never forget.

The Mission Rules.

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