Midway Route – Day 8 – Asheville, NC to Fayetteville, NC
May 22, 2019. 295 miles.
Today was a day that dedicated itself to Honor.
You see, the first announcement at our morning meeting was a somber, but beautiful testimony to Honor and Commitment. The wife of one of our Riders passed away at home this morning. Her Family was by her side and relayed the message that her last wish was for her Husband to carry on and finish his Run For The Wall. She did not want him to give up this healing dream. She wanted him to Continue The Mission. So our grieving Rider chose to pay Honor to his Dear Wife’s last WISH. He would finish this Run! “Slammer” presented him with a special remembrance gift, and we all surrounded him with hugs.
As we road down the highway a few minutes later, we started seeing people standing on the overpasses. Not in large masses, but singly, in pairs, or small groups. They stood outside in the cold, gray morning just to wave at us. One young Mother stood on a grassy hillside with her hand over her
heart, and the other hand holding her small son, who also stood proudly holding an American flag twice his size. As we rode by, he gave a salute! As we went through a construction zone, several of the workers stopped what they were doing, came to attention, and stood there with their hats in their hands until we passed by. As our Law Enforcement Officer escort came to an end, the police Officers dismounted their bikes (while others got out of their cars), and stood saluting as we bid them farewell.
We had several new FNGs join us this morning. One of them is one of my oldest and dearest Friends. He is a Marine Veteran, serving in combat, a career LA County Sheriff’s Deputy, and my two-time Fraternity Pledge Brother. I have known him for 35+ years. What an honor for ME to get to watch him register and ride with us today! Welcome to the RFTW Family, Cap!
We visited two schools today. We had an escort by the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club. This was the fourth year that they have escorted us to Siler City, while paying tribute to their military name-sake unit. As we rode up to the Chatham Middle School in Siler City, we were greeted by the kids holding signs and Flags. Several of our Riders returned their greeting with a salute. Their band treated us to an incredible rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. It was the same arrangement that I played in Middle School, oh so many years ago. So when it came time for the big finale, I waited to see if the cymbal player would do what I was hoping he would do. He did! On the very last note, he struck an incredible cymbal crash and held them wide until the sound slowly faded away. I was so proud of him, because he smiled really big while he was doing it. You could tell that he took pride in his part of the music.
At the Falcon Children’s Home, We were honored by the Mayor, who broke down in tears for our generosity to his town and the schools children. WE were honored to participate in the graduation celebration for 13 of the kids! As we prepared to leave, the graduating Seniors gave each Rider a hand-made wooden star to commemorate our visit. That is over 400 hand-made stars! The cover of the program says “Remember and Honor.”
At one of our fuel stops, a small problem arose. We couldn’t find the person that was supposed to be the Missing Man Escort. Our pack of Riders does NOT move without a Missing Man Formation. Someone said “Get Hoofer!” and I found myself in the highest place of honor, riding next to the empty space reserved for the memory of our Missing Comrades. I had just enough time to place six aluminum bracelets in this empty space and snap a picture. With tears in my eyes, I rode the short distance in silence, repeating the names of LCDR Dennis Pike, SGT Joseph Matejov, Col Oscar Mauterer, Maj Bobby Jones, Capt Ronald Forrester, and SSG Stephen Geist. For a few brief miles, they were missing in body only, as I could feel their spirit at my side, and the love of their Families with me all of the way.
It was everywhere we went today, and could be found in everything we did.
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”