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.