It is early in the morning on May 11, 2022. REAL early. About 4 o’clock in the morning early. And I can’t sleep.
Because I have been planning and preparing for the 2022 ‘Run For The Wall’ for several years now, and I am just too excited to sleep! Or maybe, I am too worried that I have forgotten something for my bike, or that I didn’t pack everything, or didn’t sign all of my paperwork, or check my credit cards, or … … Well, you get the idea.
But here it is, early in the morning and my mind is racing over a hundred little details. Not only am I planning to participate again with Run For The Wall as the Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author, but I am also one of two Photographers for the new Sandbox Route. Additionally, I am honored to once again to be leading a group of RFTW Riders from Dallas to Ontario, known as ‘Hoofer’s Hooligans.” So I have a lot of plans to check and recheck.
“Hoofer’s Hooligans” is the longest continually running “Run To The Run” for RFTW. This ‘run’ began many years ago as Dutch’s Demented Desperado’s, or the “DDD”. “Dutch” created this ride, this group of like-minded Riders all headed towards a common goal, to help get the Riders safely across the country and to the start of RFTW. He ran this for several years before gaining the help of Roger “Cowboy” Mead. Cowboy took over this ride, now known as the “CDR” or “Cowboys Desert Renegades.” He added a little more refinement to the ride, by taking the group off of the interstates for a while so that they could safely practice group formation riding. What a brilliant idea! (Yes, Cowboy had a good idea!) But after several years, it was time for him to retire from this ride. I saw a lot of value in this “pre-conditioning” ride, so when I asked him who was going to take it over, he “volun-told” me that I would be organizing it from now on. He then dubbed the ride “Hoofer’s Hooligans” and I have been leading it ever since. I continue the traditions of Dutch and Cowboy by leading the group safely, and doing a little “group riding practice.” But I wanted to put my own “spin” on it so I started including a few stops at various memorials along our route to start getting our minds set for our RFTW Mission. I have been doing this now for about 6 years, and we have developed a few of our own traditions. (I like to find good places to eat and fun things to do!)
So why am I telling you about all of this? Well, it is that word “TRADITION.” The DDD, CDR, and HH all have our own traditions that we are known for. And to a large extent, that is what Run For The Wall is all about. We (RFTW) have traditions. We say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. We tell our Veterans “Welcome Home” every day. We visit Memorials, VA Hospitals, VFW and American Legion Posts, schools, and Veterans Cemeteries. We ride a “Missing Man Formation” everywhere that we go. (We don’t move an inch without this position of honor!). We follow traditions.
For two years now, those traditions have stood silent. Covid restrictions have kept us from doing all of these things as a group, although most of us have continued to do them on our own. As time has passed, things have had to change. We have new stops along our route. We have new places to visit, new things to do. Some of our previous contacts have been lost, others that were just being developed have changed hands. For the Midway Route, the youngest of the three cross-country routes, we were just getting our traditions established. In a way, this year, we are starting over. Yes, we will go to some of our “old” favorite places. But we will find “new” favorite places. We will find a new place for ice-cream; a new place for lunch stops; maybe a new place to cool off in a fountain or pool; new places to gather together to offer a healing hug or just to reflect on our past.
Whatever changes though, we will still be following our traditions of paying Honor to our Veterans and of supporting our Active Duty Personnel. We will still demand a full accounting of our Missing In Action from ALL wars, and we will honor the sacrifices paid by the Families of those STILL Missing. Things may change, but our core traditions will remain unscathed and be stronger for our time apart. We Ride For Those That Can’t. We Ride for Honor, Duty, Sacrifice, and Patriotism. We RIde to Remember our Fallen. And We Ride To Heal our hearts, our minds, and our Country from our storied past.
Whichever Route you choose to participate with, Central, Midway, Southern, or the Sandbox, YOU will be a part of our NEW Traditions. YOU will be the one to carry our traditions and legacy into the future. YOU will be the one that ignites the spark of Patriotism in the hearts of our children, and pass the flame of freedom to the next generation. YOU will be “Run For The Wall.”
I am honored to have the opportunity to serve you once again. It never ceases to amaze me how YOU, those that have served our great nation, have welcomed me, a non-veteran, into your Family. When you call me “Brother” and stand shoulder to shoulder with me as an equal, I am humbled. I can do no less than my utmost best to try and represent the values that you have stood for, that you have put your life on the line for, that you cherish so deeply in your heart. My promise to you is that I WILL try my best, and that I will try to faithfully record YOUR experiences with Run For The Wall. I Thank You for your trust and for this Honor.
Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Please visit www.jimmccrain.smugmug.com/Run-For-The-Wall to see 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”