By Tia Lynn Ivey
More than 1,200 motorcyclists lined the streets of Downtown Madison as hundreds more gathered in Town Park for the 19th Annual Ride for America Memorial Day Ceremony to honor the service of all American veterans.
Every year, Ride for America orchestrated a patriotic motorcycle “parade” from Loganville to Madison. Riders waiving American flags and donned in red, white, and blue stop in Madison to hear local leaders pay homage to veterans. This year, four small planes flew overhead as servicemen and women presented the colors at the opening of the ceremony.
Both Donald Harris, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners chairman, and Fred Perriman, mayor of Madison, spoke at this year’s ceremony.
“What a wonderful morning it is to be in Madison’s Town Park to remember the brave soldiers who have given their lives for our country, this this great nation,” began Perriman. “As mayor of Madison, I would like to welcome my fellow citizens, visitors, and especially our veterans and active personnel to Town Park… we come together to remember and honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s finest and bravest…We ask ourselves where would we be without the personal sacrifice made by these brave men and women? It is right that we honor the fallen. We also acknowledge our veterans and active service men and women—to all of you please accept our heartfelt thanks…God Bless America, God Bless those brave men and women and God Bless the United States of America.”
Harris was proud to speak on behalf of the county to thank all of our local veterans.
“We come here every year to pay tribute and salute both the living and the dead—the veterans who served our country,” said Harris. “Memorial Day is a time for reflections and a time for recognition and a time to remember those who went to war, but did not survive during the fight for freedom. It is a time to express our gratitude to those who served and defended freedom and democracy.” Harris urged the crowd to “keep their legacy alive” by taking the time to remember their service and their sacrifice.
State Commander for the American Legion Carmen Smith also addressed the crowd Monday afternoon.
“What a beautiful day the Lord gave us today as we remember those who have made the greatest sacrifice of all—they gave their lives…for the freedom a lot of us take for granted,” said Smith. “They gave their lives for these United States to have the freedom that is incomparable to any other. I want to thank them and take this opportunity to thank the riders, sheriff department and local police departments for escorting us with a safe trip, because they, too, also put their lives in danger.”
“I cannot be more grateful and I am so honored to have the privilege to be today with each one of you sharing in this day,” she added.
For nearly 20 years, Post 37 of the American Legion has coordinated with Ride for America to make this Memorial Day ceremony happen. The first ceremony held 19 years ago featured less than 50 motorcyclists. That numbers as swelled to just over 1230 riders this year.
“It’s pretty incredible what this event has become,” said Jim NeSmith, commander for Post 37 of the American Legion. “I welcome each and every one of you here today.”
Stan Mauldin, Co-founder of Ride for America addressed the crowd and took a moment to thank those who helped make this event possible.
“Everyday I stand before you to tell you a little bit about what this day is all about…but I want to take the time to thank you for this turnout,” said Mauldin.