BY Mike Fletcher
A week of activities honoring veterans through the Military Appreciation Days culminated Saturday into a “Ride to Remember.”
Three motorcycle Kokomo police escorted more than 50 motorcycles, several antique cars, a military Humvee and a limousine carrying several World War II veterans. They roared out of the Harley-Davidson store on U.S. 31 to start the “Ride to Remember” event on a surprisingly warm November day.
As the crowd prepared for the ride, a World War II fighter plane circled the Harley shop.
“It’s a nice day,” said Don Beaton, a retired Air Force veteran, said as he talked with Don Wright prior to the ride.
“It’s a good reason to be here,” he said of honoring his fellow veterans.
Wright drove his 1959 Pontiac Bonneville, which he bought Aug. 6, 1959 from Charles Conkle Sr., to honor fellow veterans.
“I like to come to these events to show my support and bring the old car out,” he said.
The event sponsored by Agape Garden Ministries and the Military Foundation is the last of a week of events honoring veterans as part of Military Appreciation Days.
“The children came to us and wanted to know what they could do for the veterans,” said Ed Bragg of Agape Ministries of the event.
Half of the money raised at the event will go towards the Howard County Wounded Warriors Housing Project, which is building a home for wounded soldier Spec. Anthony Walton who just returned from battle in Afghanistan; and half to the Help Military Kids Smile Project.
“I think this is wonderful,” said Larry Hedges of the American Legion Post 6, who helped bring in several World War II veterans for the event. “I know these World War II vets really appreciate it.”
The legion also will be honoring Korean War veterans at 11 a.m. today at the post on South Lafountain Street.
Teri Rose, the mother of Pfc. David Neil Simmons, who was killed in Iraq in 2007, decided to drive in the precession to the event with her daughter and grandchildren in memory of her son and all veterans instead of riding.
“I wanted to stay warm,” she said. “I’m just a spectator this time.”
Rose took center stage last week at the Neil Simmons 5K run/walk honoring her son.
“This whole week with all the activities and to conclude with this has pushed it to a whole new level. Now we get to see all the veterans memorials and to have the World War II veterans here. I know it’s a thrill for them to participate in this.”
After leaving the Harley store, the caravan of veterans and riders cruised south on U.S. 31 east on Markland Avenue to South Goyer where they visited the Veterans Memorial at Darrough Chapel Park.
The riders then went through Crown Point Cemetery past the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, west through downtown to see the Civil War memorial at the Courthouse, past the future home of the Veterans Home on Jackson Street, to the World War II memorial in Foster Park. The ride then headed south to the War Memorial at the UAW 685 hall on Hoffer Street before ending at Agape Gardens Ministry on South Purdum Street for a dedication of a new POW/MIA Memorial.