Pre Ride Planning
The actual real time preparation for the NEVER FORGET Ride was about 6 months. When I started looking for Vietnam Memorials I couldn’t find one specific source so I wrote to the VFW, American Legion, Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America and a few other Veteran related organizations. I also wrote to the heads of the individual States Veteran Affairs Offices. Surprising to me was that a large portion of these Veteran Affairs Offices had little to no idea where their Vietnam Veterans Memorials were. Although it may not be their specific job, the same group that knew very little didn’t even have offer an alternative source — I’m guessing they just did not know. This, by itself needs to be changed.
After a frustrating month of emails, snail mail, phone calls and other research, I was pointed to the “Warriors Remembered” publication. This is probably the most complete “list” of Memorials although it ONLY contains about 100 sites. It is also a learning experience and very emotional. Reading why they were designed the way they are, the stories behind the people involved, the sacrifices that were made by all the Vietnam Veterans.
During my research I also received a lot of information from the various veteran support groups and many individuals that saw the “announcements” that were put out by the veteran support groups (VFW, MCL, etc). The input was very refreshing and extremely important to my planning. Very appreciated.
Picking the memorials was very trying. Besdies the emotional issues, I had a set time frame to stay within. On a daily basis I wanted to stay between 250 and 300 miles and I almost succeeded. Some days I had to go a little further, some days I will visit more than one memorial, and on some days, it will be just riding.
What you can do — first and foremost is spread the word as I would really like to meet as many vets as possible, and under the circumstances, I want to meet as many Vietnam Vets as possible. I will be carrying a POW/MIA Flag that I would like to get signed. The first signatures will be done at The Wall on Memorial Day Weekend. I’m hoping for one Vietnam Veteran from each branch of the military from each year of the Vietnam War. I will gladly accept signatures from the other conflicts (and may have to carry more than one flag). I want to make sure that EVERYONE remembers, and continues to remember the Welcome Home that our Vietnam Warriors received (or didn’t receive) because it can never happen again. NEVER FORGET.
Why the NFR
NEVER FORGET Ride, 2014
In May of ’66 I returned from my first of two and a half tours in Vietnam. We were early returnees so the “celebrations” had only just begun. We were subjected, at best, to indifference— at worst, to disrespect and hostility. We were stunned at this treatment, having served at the call of our Country.
In the years since the Vietnam War I have watched as some realized that the way they treated our military was horrible. I watched as many of my brothers and sisters and their families tried to recover from not only the trauma of war, but the bigger trauma of being accused of being murders and baby killers, of being ignored and shunned. Many suffer from their individual experiences in Vietnam. Many have never overcome what was done to them when they came home, and sadly, many more have already gone to their final resting place without the respect and recognition they deserved. Very few have been told “thank you” for their sacrifices. I want to change that as much as I can.
When I came home I did my best to forget what I could as many of my brothers and sisters have done, or have tried to do. Although I’ve managed to put memories from Vietnam away, I’ve never been able to forget the protests and treatment of my fellow vets. I will NEVER FORGET the ones that did not return — the names on The Wall — KIA and our POW/MIA. I encourage all to go to http://thewall-usa.com/names.asp — look at the “statistics”. And I will NEVER FORGET that we have thousands more that have “not come home” — yet. We must bring home our POW/MIA, and we must make amends to our brothers and sisters who have come back from Viet Nam, but who have never really Come Home.
On Memorial Day 2014 I will begin the NEVER FORGET Ride to get people to remember the Vietnam Veteran, their families, and our POW/MIA’s. I want to remind all that our military in the past, present, and future deserve respect and a thank you — every day. I will travel by motorcycle to at least one Vietnam Memorial in each state, including Alaska and possibly Canada. I’m hoping to meet Vietnam Veterans and their families, as well as the families of our POW/MIA’s. I will be carrying a POW/MIA Flag and hope to get signatures — at least one for each branch, for each year, plus POW/MIA Families, and Gold Stars (Vietnam). My trip will begin at The Wall in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day weekend and end at the National POW/MIA Memorial in the Riverside National Cemetery on Sep 19 — National POW/MIA Day. If you’re a Vietnam Vet or the family of a deceased Vietnam Veteran, come out and say hello so I can say, from one Vietnam Vet, “Welcome Home and Thank You for your sacrifices, and sorry it’s taken so long”. If you’re the family of a POW/MIA, come out so I can say “sorry it’s taking so long”, and, we will NEVER FORGET. If you’re one of my brothers and sisters that still hasn’t quite made it home, come say hello, please.
The route is posted but check frequently for any changes to dates, times and locations as it’s a complex ride. I will be doing a blog on www.eaglesup.us for those that wish to “follow along”.
NEVER FORGET (again)
Vietnam Memorial — Jacksonville, NC
I’ve visited this Memorial before a few times. Its right outside the Main Gate to Camp Lejeune and in the same park as the Beruit Bombing Memorial and a beam from the Twin Towers in NY (9/11).
Focusing on just the Vietnam Memorial — see the Twitter picture and sign up on my Twitter and you will get pictures whenever I do them. This is just one picture and not easy to show the whole Memorial. What I can tell you is that the area is a quiet and very clean area — you walk in from the parking lot across a very nice lighted bridge. Its a large circle of glass panels surrounding a covered area with a pool with simple fountains. In the shade it has to be a good 10 degrees cooler and the serenity of the pool, with the soft sounds of the fountains has a tendency to quiet and relax you. The area is surrounded by trees — outside the glass panels — again adding to the quiet and settling mood. The glass panels are clear glass and have the names of all of our Vietnam KIA’s etched in the glass. They are alphabetical so if you know someone its easy to find them. For about the 4th time I’ve tried to read the names but I can’t get thru too many. These are all people to me — not just names. The magnitude, when you understand, is overpowering. 58,250 names (I’m not sure if they add names like they have on The Wall in DC) — so many.
Looking at the names you can look right thru the glass but you can also see reflections. There are USA flags all over so you see them as well as reflections and shadows of anyone walking around or sitting there. I’d swear you see more reflections then there are people walking around. Between the water sounds and the breeze going thru the tree’s — not quite silence, not quite voices. A perfect place for thinking about our lost brothers and sisters as well as our heroes. A perfect place to talk. I don’t need the Memorials to remember, but I do need them to remind. A place for ALL to visit.