Back in December I read this post on Vickie's blog, http://ourharleydays.blogspot.com/. I must of been in the middle of a massive brain fart because, for some reason, I thought she was writing about a Decatur Colorado. (May of had something to do with me knowing that Vickie & her husband, Tim, live in Ft. Collins Colorado). Sunday at the PGR Mission, I mentioned another ride that was going on that went to a steakhouse in Decatur. That's when Vickie's Dad & two brothers, all three members of the PGR, set me straight on THE DECATUR INCIDENT. I feel every biker around here in North Texas & Southern Oklahoma and those passing thru need to either be informed of or reminded of this incident. Scroll down and read this GREAT & INFORMATIVE post by Vickie.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Not Wanted - Vietnam Vets on Motorcycles
December 8, 2008 Fort Collins, CO
My response to an article written about the banning of a motorcycle escort for The Wall That Heals in Decatur, Texas.
The decision not to allow veterans on motorcycles (many of them Vietnam Vets themselves) escort The Wall That Heals (not the Moving Wall as stated in the article) into town is a shame the city of Decatur and residents of Wise County will not soon live down. These veterans on two wheels who are nameless in the article written by Mandy Bourgeois are called the Patriot Guard Riders. They are ALL Patriots on a scale the likes of Bobby Harris and Jim Donovan could not begin to measure. [RE: Bobby (Harris) and I feel that it's solemn and hallowed ground, and it's a memorial to our brothers who died so I don't want bikes making noise," Donovan said.] Did you serve in the armed forces Mr. Harris? Can you really call the names on the wall your brothers? For shame! You have no excuse, Mr. Donovan. If you are indeed a Vietnam veteran, the good deeds of The Patriot Guard Riders cannot have escaped your attention. My Dad is standing tall with the Patriot Guard this very day in Wichita Falls, Texas at a young serviceman’s funeral. Yesterday, he rode to Dallas to escort that young man’s hearse to Wichita Falls. Where were you? Perhaps you are ignorant of the fact that one of the sponsors of The Wall That Heals is Harley-Davidson Motorcycles?
Members of the Patriot Guard perform a service no one else is willing to do. They put themselves between the bereaved and those who would dishonor our veterans. They stand with flag in hand at funerals and memorial services. They ride countless miles in the cold and rain and wind and heat to escort a bus of soldiers deploying for Iraq and other places in the world. They ride, flags waving behind them to greet the soldiers who return. They provide escort for hearses of fallen soldiers returning to their homes all across the United States. They sponsor and contribute to toy drives and food drives and benefits for the families of veterans and abused children. They do all these things without asking for your tax dollars or recognition. They do it because they are true Patriots.
The Patriot Guard motto is: Riding with Respect - Standing for Those Who Stood for Us
Once again, the Vietnam Vet is silenced in a rather insidious manner by the very people who profess to honor them. When my Dad – a twenty year USAF veteran - deployed for Vietnam there was no one to see him off but his family. When he arrived home from Vietnam there was no one to welcome him home but his family. My husband served during the Vietnam era, too. In my recollection of that time, there are no high school bands (talk about noisy), no flag wavers, no color guards, no honor guards and thankfully, no hometown idiot mouthing about noisy motorcycles when he apparently has no clue what he’s talking about. No, we have pinhead organizers in Decatur saying the Wall dedicated to soldiers who served and lost their lives should silently slide in and out of town without a proud and respectful escort of the ones who actually served beside those brave souls. I have never witnessed a Patriot Guard escort that was disrespectful by way of excessive noise. It is my opinion The Wall should roar into town. The Vietnam Vets (those memorialized on the wall and those still living) deserve all the noise and fanfare and respect we can give them.
If the City of Decatur wants silence, I’m thinking they will get it. Count my husband and I, my parents (Patriot Guard members all) and a good many others I know willing to by-pass in the future the restaurants, antique stores, gas stations and so forth in Decatur, Texas we have formerly patronized. Never again will we darken your prejudiced doors with our presence.
Correction: Dad did indeed ride to Decatur to join fellow Patriot Guard members escort the hearse into Wichita Falls, but he did not attend the funeral as Mom was not well.
Also, to be fair here - the organizers of this event protest loudly (especially Mr Donovan) that they did not say bikers were not welcome but that is the quote and the paper has not printed a retraction or correction. Me thinks they do protest too much -- no matter, loose words are hard to take back no matter how much you wish you had not said them.
One more thought: While organizers may say they don't want bikers at an event - they really have no right or protection under the law to forbid law-abiding citizens from attending any public event. Nor do they have a say in what sort of horse one rides in on... They cannot dictate effectively who uses the highways in and out of their town. Even the drivers of memorials like The Healing Wall cannot dictate who rides with them (although they say they claim they can choose NOT to have an escort.) In reality, they don't have a choice -- the roads are free people -- that's why we ride.
Read the Patriot Guard Mission Statement at:http://www.patriotguard.org/AboutUs/OurMission/tabid/60/Default.aspx
Read about The Wall that Heals at:http://www.vvmf.org/index.cfm?SectionID=3
Source of my irritation:Moving Wall opens Thursday Some upset motorcycle escort won’t be allowed By Mandy Bourgeois Published Sunday, December 7, 2007, Wise County Messengerhttp://www.wcmessenger.com/news/content/EkklVAuEVuxhtezKNa.php
Harley-Davidson 3700 W. Juneau Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53208(414) 343-4056.
City Officials in Decatur. They are next on my list... http://www.decaturtx.org/contact.html-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Article:Moving Wall opens Thursday Some upset motorcycle escort won’t be allowed By Mandy Bourgeois Published Sunday, December 7, 2007, Wise County Messenger. A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be on display in Decatur Dec. 11-14, and organizers are expecting large crowds while "The Moving Wall" is on here.
"We may have more, but 10,000 visitors is a good estimate," said Jim Donovan, a Vietnam veteran and a member of the veterans group bringing the wall to Decatur. "We've been getting a lot of calls. We get at least five a day at my house from Fort Worth or Dallas because word has gotten out at the VA Clinics. I consider it probably the biggest thing ever to hit Wise County.
"The 250-foot replica memorial will be located at the Decatur Middle School campus between the tennis courts and the school. The wall will arrive Wednesday morning, and Donovan invites volunteers to help put the wall together.
"The more the merrier. We could use anybody," he said. "They can also volunteer to work during the week."
The group will begin working at 9 a.m.
With the wall comes a traveling museum and information center, as well as a computer database that allows people to quickly find the location of a name on the wall.
The wall will open to the public for viewing Thursday morning and a ceremony honoring Vietnam veterans will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, at the middle school's multi-purpose building.
Donovan has spent the last few weeks talking to students in Wise County schools and said that several schools have arranged for students to view the wall.
"We've talked to just about everybody in the county. Chico has promised to bring nine buses on Friday loaded with students. Bridgeport is going to be shuttling students back and forth," he said. "It's really taking off. I'm really happy."
As the day the wall is scheduled to arrive gets closer, Donovan has been overwhelmed by the support and interest of the county and surrounding areas.
"I really envisioned a local interest. I didn't really realize that just because we'd put up a sign at the VA clinics and hospitals that it would get so much attention," Donovan said. "The school kids have been very receptive. I can't get over how well-behaved and receptive they were to something like this."
Donovan praised the Decatur school district for their support of the program.
"Dr. Gary Gindt has just been wonderful in getting help from the maintenance men, the custodial staff and the principals - they have worked hard," Donovan said. "Everybody has been very, very nice."
The organizers have worked for months to raise money to fund the event, and Donovan said they are still raising money. However, he said that any money raised before the wall opens stays in Wise County, with extra funds going to needy veterans and scholarships for veterans' children. Any money raised Thursday and after will be given to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
While much of the response to the event has been positive, the decision to not allow an escort into town has ruffled a few feathers. Veteran motorcyclists groups expecting to provide an escort were saddened when organizers opted not to have an escort.
"Bobby (Harris) and I feel that it's solemn and hallowed ground, and it's a memorial to our brothers who died so I don't want bikes making noise, Donovan said.
Kathleen Renfro of Newark said that the move "is like a slap in the face."
"This is a hot topic for me. What would it hurt to let the other vets ride in with the wall?" she asked.
Renfro is a good friend of Dorothy "Mamma" Schafernocker of Newark, a mother of a Vietnam soldier killed in action. Schafernocker holds picnics twice annually at her land near Eagle Mountain Lake for veterans, which attracts many motorcyclist groups.
"I have met them and I have talked to them. It just seems cruel," Renfro said. "Mom puts great care into these picnics. I've met them over the last eight years. Our Mamma Schafernocker, she is a very sweet person. She lost her son in that war. For them not to let the bikers come - I don't get it."
Renfro feels that allowing the veterans to provide an escort would be another therapeutic outlet.
"They would get comfort from being able to escort it into town. These men and women have feelings, you know? In a perfect world, they would all just get along and be able to ride in with it," she said.
Renfro said that Schafernocker was in Rogers at another wall ceremony this week but said she will be home in time to attend the Decatur event.
"Just in case somebody shows up that might need her, she'll be there," Renfro said.
Copyright 2008 Wise County Messenger PO Box 149, 115 South Trinity, Decatur, Texas 76234 940-627-5987 FAX 940-627-1004 www.wcmessenger.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by -V- at 2:11 PM
Labels: Colorado, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle, Patriot Guard, Texas, USA, Veteran
I Thank Vickie for permission to cut/paste the above from her blog, http://ourharleydays.blogspot.com/, and to use it on my blog. I now am joining in the ban on Decatur Texas. I will no longer eat in Decatur or gas up in Decatur (either by car or motorcycle). Decatur Texas is now in the same boat, as far as I am concerned, as Jane Fonda.
Scroll down for more rides, events & posts and don't forget to click on the "older posts" link at the bottom of EACH page for more rides and posts. Check out North Texas Bikers (1) at http://www.jjskewlstuff.blogspot.com/ for rides, events & posts from January 08-November 08. Until next post, ya'll be careful out there, ride safe, keep the rubber on the road & pray for our Troops & Rodney................JOHN
THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO ALL BIKERS HERE IN THE U.S. AND WORLDWIDE. TO ALL THE VETERANS; THOSE LIVING AND TO THOSE WHO GAVE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE; TO THOSE CURRENTLY SERVING AND TO THOSE IN THE FUTURE, WHO WILL SERVE LONG AFTER WE HAVE GONE, TO PRESERVE THE FREEDOM THAT THOSE IN THE PAST, WE IN THE PRESENT AND THOSE IN THE FUTURE HAVE ENJOYED, ARE ENJOYING AND WILL ENJOY, AS WE RIDE FREE AND ENJOY LIFE ON OUR CHOSEN MODE OF TRANSPORTATION: MOTORCYCLES
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