The heavy rains could not wash away Madison’s patriotism this week. The 20th Annual Ride for America brought about 300 motorcyclists through Downtown Madison for a special Memorial Day ceremony to honor the memory of fallen veterans in Town Park. A sizeable crowd banned together beneath umbrellas while waving American flags as community leaders and local veterans took the stage.
Congressman Jody Hice served as this year’s grand marshal for the Ride for America motorcycle parade.
“We gather here today because we all understand the importance of Memorial Day,” said Hice. “We understand that we would not even be here if it was not for the over a million veterans who laid their lives down, so we could enjoy our freedoms.”
Hice, who is running for reelection this November, vowed to use his position on Capitol Hill to benefit America’s veterans. “I will do everything in my power to see to it that all American servicemen and women have every tool and training that they need so we can continue to have the greatest military in the world and to ensure their safe return to their loved ones here at home.”
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman and Morgan County Commissioner Chairman Ron Milton also delivered remarks at Monday’s ceremony.
“What a great day to be in Madison,” said Perriman. “Each of you are here this morning because you wanted to honor our brave soldier who fought for our country. For those brave heroes, when they left home as young men and young women, they said ‘yes, I can, yes, I can,’ because they were doing it for our country.”
Perriman also acknowledged the active military members and expressed gratitude for their service.
“It is good to recognize our active service men and women,” said Perriman. “Please accept my heartfelt thanks.”
Commissioner Milton encouraged the crowd to reflect on the sacrifice of American veterans before getting swept up in the usual pleasures of summer.
“Summer brings cookout and the end of school, but we need to pause and reflect on how indebted we are to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for us all—to honor those who have their all so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.”
Jim NeSmith, commander for Post 37 of the American Legion, reminded the crowd that Memorial Day is not a joyous holiday, but a somber one.
“There is nothing happy about Memorial Day,” said NeSmith. “It’s a time we honor our fallen heroes…It is raining now, but our guys and girls went through a lot more than, so here we are for them.
Stan Mauldin, co-founder of Ride for America addressed the crowd and took a moment to thank those who helped make this event possible.
“Madison is one of the most beautiful towns in the South and I am proud we are able to come here to hold this ceremony,” said Maudlin. Maudlin noted the 20th Anniversary of Ride for America this year. For the last 20 years motorcyclists have embarked on a patriotic ride from Loganville to Madison every Memorial Day—rain or shine. The first ride drew 47 riders. Today, hundreds of motorcyclists participate each year.
“It’s an amazing thing to see,” said Maudlin. “I see all you people out here getting wet, but does it matter if we get a little bit wet? No. We owe a debt of honor to those who gave us the ultimate sacrifice.”