Another emotional day on the road.
Day began in the agricultural pavilion in Meridian, MS. The arena is for cattle auction. This city girl is not accustomed to cattle auction arenas. if it weren’t for the run I would not have the opportunities to see things out of my norm. Just another thing I love about the run.
The riders’ meeting began with prayer and before we said the pledge we reviewed the correct way to say The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America. We call it the THREE COMMA Pledge. There are only three commas in the pledge. People tend to add a fourth comma after “One nation”. There is no comma after one nation, it should be said as one continues phrase with no pause. “One nation under God”. Now that you’ve been told, it will drive you nuts when it is said incorrectly.
Yesterday the gas stop at the Tallulah-Love’s Truck Stop was donated by “Stonewall” our road guard/LEO liaison. This morning, she shared with the riders her reason for donating this same gas stop every year. Her husband,Roger Edwards Phelan Jr. Major in the USAF. With a 27 year flying career, served in Vietnam and the Gulf War. Roger was an FNG in 2009. At that time he was being treated for four different cancers, all of which were in remission. While serving in Vietnam he was exposed to Agent Orange. Before going on the run, Roger was frustrated and unhappy. Stonewall shared that, the man she got back from the run was not the same man that left. He came home with gratitude and love. The run changed his life. Ultimately, Roger, lost his battle with cancer in February 2010. Before he passed, they decided that they would donate this same gas stop every year. Thank you Stonewall for your service, sacrifice and dedication to continuing the mission ❤️❤️❤️
This is why we ride!
If you read last night’s sit-rep, you read about the missing staging team. Good sports that they are, they came to the morning rider’s meeting ready to sing the little diddy I wrote last night. Hehehehe, I bet they don’t miss the turn next year.
We left Mississippi under cloudy cool skies. As soon as we passed the Sweet Home Alabama sign, the road side was lined with “ginormous” magnolia trees. We’re talking huge, the size of a house. The trees were covered in large magnolia blossoms. It was a beautiful sight to behold. I thought my little magnolia tree back home in California was doing well, until I saw the Alabama magnolias.
We stopped for gas and then rode another five miles to the Tuscaloosa VAMC, Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM CAN BE SEEN AT YOUR LOCAL VA HOSPITAL.
The VAMC rolls out the red carpet, the sidewalks are lined with patients and staff, lots of flag waving and clapping. I posted a video of the pack riding in on the RFTW – closed facebook page, check it out.
Riders were escorted into the atrium/gym for a lunch of pork sandwiches, chips and cookies. From there, riders are encouraged to visit with the patients.
Last year Dustin & Brenda introduced me to Sgt. Shane Strickland who served two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. He was injured in a training accident. He will spend the rest of his life in a VAMC. While he is physically injured, he is mentally all there. I have been conversing with Shane’s nurses and sending packages all year. To have the opportunity to go and visit him again today was a special moment for me. I was also able to get a new point of contact so I will be better informed on what Shane’s needs and wants are.
While talking with Shane, I was called away to do an interview for the local news station. I think I’ve given an interview every day on the run, but today, I cried. My heart is so full of gratitude and sorrow for our wounded veterans. I am frustrated that I am only one person and there are veterans like Shane in every VA hospital. This is why I ride, to show my love and support for our veterans.
“Top Sarge” has been collecting socks, underwear and toiletries to give to the veterans at the hospital. Yesterday when she didn’t have what she felt were adequate donations, she asked Bugs to pass the hat. She would go shopping at Walmart with the donated money and deliver it to the hospital. Riders donated $1,200 and Shirley bought a lot of personal items for the veterans. She shared with me that it was very fun to go shopping with someone else’s money. We thank you Shirley for your dedication to the mission and to veterans. Looking forward to watching you lay the wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
During lunch Bugs passed about four hats and asked riders to donate cash for the hospital to buy additional supplies for the veterans. The Southern Route RFTW was going to match whatever amount riders’ put into the hat. The generous riders’ donated more than $2,000 with the matching funds from RFTW, Southern Route donated more than $4,000 to the Tuscaloosa VAMC. Plus the close to $1,500 in supplies Shirley collected.
Way to go riders!!!!
On the road again, headed for the Ashville, Alabama, Piggly Wiggly. The Piggly puts on a wienie roast for the riders every year. It’s the best hot dog, I eat all year. Also, might be the only hot dog I eat all year. Riders’ dined on hotdogs, watermelon, ice cream, and chips. It’s a fun stop with plenty of locals out to cheer us on.
In 2015, four Marines; a Navy Sailor & a Marine Recruiter were shot & killed at a recruiting center in Chattanooga. The Ambassadors visited, all left a penny & paid respects for the Run.
Out Reach report:
“This is the sister of flight surgeon Bobby Jones MIA since Nov of 1972. This is the last known photo of her brother, he was always helping others and enjoyed helping the locals in Thailand.”
“We do an outreach to this family every year to visit Bobby’s mother who is now 102 and a half ,she calls us her boys and looks forward to us every year, she is a great hugger.”
I can’t believe tomorrow is day 8 and the run is almost over. I am not ready!
Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less. General Robert E. Lee
The service in Chattanooga is bad. I didn’t even get to read through what I wrote. Sorry.