Every year, hundreds of motorcyclists from Rolling Thunder, who are Riding for the Wall in Washington D.C., descend upon Frankfort the Wednesday before Memorial Day. Their 10-day journey takes them from the West Coast of California to the East Coast of D.C. And Capital Living has been there to cover the event over the last five years.
Annually, I am moved by these brave men and women taking on such a trek across the US, riding in honor of their fallen buddies and missing friends. This year, I decided to share that experience with my 15-year old daughter. We stood in the rain together and got soaking wet during the event. I encouraged her to watch and listen to these men. Then I asked her to write about that experience. She dug deep. The following is a 1st draft of what she wrote – typos and all.
The freedom to dance in the rain
By Kathryn “Katie” Cole
Have you ever sat down and thanked the men and women that risk their lives for the future generations to come? They fight for that red, white, and blue flag that hangs high above our country. They protect our nation and our freedom. Think about our american flag that flies high in every city, in every county, in every classroom. Think about the 50 individual stars, evenly spaced showing that no state in more important than the next. Together under one blue union. 13 stripes to memorialize the 13 colonies that stood for freedom and justice. 6 white stripes for purity and 7 Red stripes to represent the beginning and the end. They fight to protect the freedom of that flag. They loose their best friends. There are many nights that they fight in the worst conditions just to insure that our country stays just as free as it has been for 241 years. Every man and every woman can not be forgotten. We have to remember what they have done for us. There are still warriors missing that need to be welcomed home.
That is the ride for the wall is all about. And I got to experience the most stunning moment surrounded by our nation’s most courageous men and women first hand. These men and women ride from California to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The roar of their motorcycles sounds like a war cry that rumbles across the nation that they risked their lives for. One of the stops that this storm of 700 veterans happened to be at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Frankfort. I stood listened to the stories that these incredible people told one another. One man walk over to a name of a fallen friend and looked at me and stated, “ I remember him, he was my best friend. We were leaving to go home when he was killed.”
I stood with tears at the rims of my eyes. This moment became such a turning point for how I have ever looked towards (our) veterans. Before this day I had never put much thought into the fact that they watched their friends die in front of them. As Heather French Henry stood in front of us and shared her story, the only sound you could hear was her voice and the melody of heavy rain pounding on leather jackets and soaked heads. The song of the skies got louder and louder as the emotion in her tone grew. She gave a voice to the ones who died for our freedom. The fallen wept in the form of rain that showered upon us. And, as is they wanted to say thank you for welcoming them back home, they blessed us and ceased the rain so their comrades could have a safe travels to DC. They are the ones who fight and die for us just so we can dance freely in the rain.
My daughter’s vivid words were poignant as any I have ever written. For a moment, she “got it”. The weather was one of the most miserable shoots I had ever done. But I put my DSLR away and shot the entire thing with my waterproof cell phone. If you didn’t appreciate the words that were written by a 15-year old Freshman, perhaps you can appreciate the photos and videos provided by Capital Living. You see, these men and women who ride have been to hell and back. Then they ride across our nation to fight for those who can no longer fight. If they can endure what they have had in their lives thus far, so can I in bringing their story to you!