As of this blog entry, we are at D-7, and it's been a busy week. Last year, I think we had the section of my website for my Ride Across the USA up about 6-8 weeks before rolled. This year, it was up only 3 weeks prior because of several reasons. Prayers are much appreciated to spread the word about this mission to honor those who gave their lives while in service to our country. We are also riding to spread the word about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, US Army. SGT Bergdahl has been in captivity since June 2009, and we wonder how many people know this. Simply stated, we want him to return home safely.
We added stickers to my Memorial/Tribute Helmet. I have more pictures on my Facebook page.
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|My current helmet is on the left, and my new Memorial/Tribute Helmet is on the right. I'm almost out of space on my new helmet|
We printed the Gold Star Roster, which contains 7,149 Heroes. By comparison, our Fallen Heroes Roster in 2011 had 4,998 Heroes. For this ride, we decided to call it an American Gold Star Roster (not to be confused with American Gold Star Mothers). This roster includes those who died while in service to our country, regardless of whether the death was hostile, non-hostile, traffic accident, etc. We also expanded the Roster to include those who gave their lives before the current War Against Terrorism. For example, we included those who gave their lives in Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Just Cause, Urgent Fury, Restore Hope, and the bombing in Beirut. The challenge is finding the Heroes who died while serving our country, but not during an operation. For that, we rely on family members to provide us with information to add their Hero to the Roster. You can find the Gold Star Roster at this link: Gold Star Pages.
This mission is affiliated with Operation Helping Hands for Heroes (Operation HHH) as a project. Operation HHH is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the affiliation allows sponsors of this mission to be eligible for tax deductions, based on IRS regulations. We are bringing mission dog tags with us to Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial in Irvine, CA. We have enough for each Gold Star Mother in the Dogwood and Magnolia Chapters, a dozen for Operation HHH, and we set aside 50 for the first 50 sponsors. There is no minimum or maximum amount, but we request that the minimum be $10 to cover the cost of the tag, postage, and card to mail the tag. There are more ways to help us than money. For example, my family believes in the power of prayer, and prayers are always appreciated. You can also help spread the word to family, friends, co-workers, and perhaps ask your employer to be a corporate sponsor.
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|My T-Shirt Design for this Ride|
We designed a t-shirt and put it in my online store. That design will be available through May, then we'll take it down and put in the dog biscuit box. You can visit my store at Riding for Fallen Heroes.
On Thursday, my parents took my Harley to HotRodz in Fayetteville and left me at home! HotRodz will have her for a few days for routine maintenance and new tires. I think my driver will pick her up on Tuesday or Wednesday, then start doing some roll-up-the-sleeves load planning/testing. One of our concerns is the amount of space needed for the Gold Star Rosters. They are in three binders: one each for the Dogwood and Magnolia Chapters of the American Gold Star Mothers, and one is an alphabetical sort. In total, the binders are 4 inches thick. We're concerned about space, so we may reduce the print size to fit into three binders that are 1/2-inch each, but we'll make that decision when we test pack the saddlebags.
Today, our flags arrived: a US Ceremonial Flag, and a Christian flag and POW/MIA flag for my Harley. The Christian flag will have "In Memory of Ed Williams" on it and we will fly it across the USA. Ed is one of the co-founders of Operation HHH. I first met him through Raleigh HOG after I started riding. I'm an honorary member of Operation HHH and this Ride Across the USA is affiliated with them as a project. The POW/MIA flag will have "Bowe Bergdahl, SGT, USA".
Given my age, I'm not sure if I will have it in me for another cross-country ride at the pace we will be travelling, but we'll see. We typically try to cover 500 miles/day, which is a lot on a motorcycle. My driver says that he will let me decide when I can't ride anymore. Even if I don't attend missions, events and organized rides, he said we will still take short rides so I can put my tongue in the wind.
Have you watched my video from my 2011 Ride Across the USA with my driver and my navigator (Thomas Sanders)? Check this out... Don't the lyrics sound like they were written for me? The song is "High on the Hog" by my friends, the MeanStreet Riders. We've ridden with them and last year on our Ride Across the USA we stopped to visit them during a photo shoot. They sometimes call me their honorary mascot -- that's soooo pawsome! In fact, they are on a road trip in the west as I prepare to ride to the west.
If there is no video below this sentence or the video does not work, please try this link: 2011 Ride Across America Video
Keep your tongue in the wind!