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Southern Route 2020 “Virtual” Sitrep Day 5

Day 5, May 17, 2020 — Grand Prairie, TX, to Monroe, LA, 327 miles

We got an extra half-hour of sleep so we didn’t have to get up til 5:30 this morning. When you’re exhausted it gets more difficult. I don’t like mornings anyway. I can’t even imagine how our leaders handle it. I know there are some getting only a few hours sleep a night. Yet it’s somehow made better by little things …  like a child and her family coloring on the concrete. A dog fix.

The gentleman whose trike was on the trailer with my bike sent me a photo of a fire truck on an overpass. There’ve been so many fire trucks with their booms up and flags.  Today there have been so many overpasses with people, fire trucks … some have been packed all the way across the four lanes, spreading onto the road on either side. People are standing along the roads waving flags. Cars have stopped and people get out and stand at attention and salute. Police stand and salute as they block interstates and ramps. I cannot help it and guess I should just let the tears come.  This mission is so much more than a ride. So very much more.

Our leader talked about when he received an epiphany for why he does this ride. I heard him. And it happened to me.

The story this morning was about a KIA/MIA. The young lady spoke of her father. They finally found and received artifacts of his but not his remains.  She’s traveled to near where they believe he was but couldn’t get to him due to weather and road conditions. It broke her heart. It broke mine to hear her. Even after so much time has passed it still hurts these folks. They have no remains, no closure.

People wear bracelets for those who haven’t come home yet. But occasionally you hear a story about someone who has … those are successes.  Those MIA/POWs are a reason to ride and why RFTW was founded.  We can make a difference doing what we’re doing.  We ride for those who can’t. More than three miles of bikes now … together we ride. And we’re going all the way … telling the story, raising awareness and working to get everyone home.

We ride for them. Bring them home. We send billions to other countries. Many of them hate us. Yet we can’t afford to bring them home. I know where my parent’s cremains are. Many know where their folks and other family and friends are buried. We need to bring those MIA/POWs home so their families can have the same closure we do.

Today there were no ceremonies. No wreath-laying. But there’s plenty to see and think about.

We had lunch in Longview, Texas. Everyone has treated us well. Food at every stop. Goodies. I met a gentleman named Ramie and his wife Marolyn. They’ve been married 49 years. He’s a Vietnam Vet, Army. We spoke for quite a while and he came to sit with me for lunch. He told me a few stories (not so pretty but he felt safe to share with me) and he and his wife touched my heart. I gave him a RFTW 2019 painted rock. We’ve met some wonderful people.

They had pieces of paper with names on them for us so we could ride for others who cannot ride. I picked up one for a Marine from Texas.  I do these things because of my Marine. One of the reasons I’m doing this ride is for him. I think he knows that. I hope he knows that.

We just rode today and ended up in Monroe, Louisiana.  We arrived an hour earlier than we’ve been arriving so maybe there’ll be a longer night’s sleep for us. Our ceremony at the Shriner’s Hall dinner was A Missing Man Table.  It was so nicely done.

We had nine FNGs join us today.  I now understand how the old timers felt about us when we first ride with the groups. 😊. Lots of brake lights. Spacing issues. Kind of funny.

It was a good day. We’re halfway there now. Things are a bit more comfortable. Our Platoon Leader lets us know at the end of the day what we’ve done well and where we can improve. He said we did well today. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”  President Abraham Lincoln

Peppermint Patti