Midway Route – Day 6 – Forrest City, AR to Cookeville, TN
May 20, 2019. 347 miles
I was a little worried this morning, though, when I pulled into the staging area and saw one of our WONDERFUL staging Crew holding THREE signs and pointing towards an empty building! Right before I drove through the front door (ALWAYS go where the staging crew tells you!) she smiled and said “Just Kidding!” Yes, we are all getting to be so familiar with each other that we can start acting like siblings. After all, we ARE Brothers and Sisters in RFTW!
Our morning meeting started, as usual, with a prayer for safety and security for all of the Riders. But we were instructed to turn to the people next to us and put our arms around them. After all, we are better when we are together, and that is truly the spirit we are showing on this Run. Nowhere is this spirit of Family and togetherness more apparent than with our own “Bruzer.” Jim Bruzewski is a Vietnam Veteran. He served numerous Tours of Duty as an F-105 Pilot and on a subsequent tour was a FAC pilot. He was shot down not once, not twice, but six times! On his last shoot-down, he was captured by the North Vietnamese and help in a jungle prison camp for many months. Tortured, beaten, and starved, he never gave in. Today, Bruzer is one of the Midway Route Road Guards, serving his fellow Brothers and Sisters! His strength and character are an inspiration to us all. With a guy like Bruzer by your side, you know that we ARE all better when we are together!
Since this is “Run For The Wall” I should mention just a little bit about the riding that we did today. First of all, EVERY platoon is looking fantastic. One of the hardest platoons to make “look good” is the trike platoons. Face it, these are big machines that take up a lot of room. But OUR trike Riders make it all look easy. Their formations are all tight and straight, with minimal “rubber-banding” action. It is truly fun to watch these guys and gals ride by!
They were definitely put to the test today, though. Memphis was Marvelous, as we had LEO escort through the entire city. Imagine a five-lane freeway shut down so that we could use ONE lane! But the test (for ALL Riders) came when we got to Nashville, … … at rush hour, … … with no LEO support. And it was HOT, and the traffic was at a stand-still, and we had multiple lanes to cross, and angry drivers all around. Well, we had a plan and we stuck to it, with everyone getting through the city safely, and those Trike Riders moving those big heavy beasts around just like toys! The looked so good! Congratulations to everyone!
Of course, the reason we were so eager to get through Nashville was because we knew that Cookeville, TN was waiting for us. Cookeville is one of the absolute favorite stops for the Midway route. The whole town shows up to watch us parade down Main Street. (And a couple of other streets, just so more people can see us!) The Chamber of Commerce really likes RFTW, and their support for the Run really shows. The food was great, but that wasn’t the best part. The entertainment was amazing, but that wasn’t the best part.
(How can Aaron Tippin not be the best part?) Getting a special proclamation from the Governor of Tennessee is quite an honor, but THAT isn’t the best part, either. At least, to ME, the best part was seeing the faces of the young children that are learning the true value of citizenship, and learning the meaning of duty, honor, and sacrifice. You can tell by looking into their eyes that these lessons are being written in their hearts. And THAT is what the Midway Riders love to see!
But we had two extremely emotional presentations that reminded us of WHY we ride. When a Family receives their official “Gold Star Family”status, WE are reminded of the sacrifices made by our service Families. When a Son talks about learning the location of his Fathers plane crash from 50 years ago, and tells how their case is being “expedited” but could still take three more years to get closure, we are reminded of the pain that is still being felt by too many Americans.
THIS is why we do what we do. This is why we Ride. We Ride for those that Can’t.
Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Please visit www.jimmccrain.smugmug.com/Run-For-The-Wall to see more pictures from our journey across this great country. I will post a few every day, and then hundreds more once I get home and can go through them all. All of these photos are free to download. Enjoy! “Hoofer”