West Coast Thunder XIII
This is from the event last year, If you have never done or would like to make sure to go HERE to register for this years event. The Farm is back to rock the house and it’s going to be bigger and better than ever!
My morning started at 5:30 am, I was up and at’em to prepare for a ride that I had yet to attend despite being a resident of the Inland Empire for 25 years. With the coffee on and my gear laid out I thought of the men who have selflessly given their lives and how truly blessed I am to be an American.
I was ready to roll by the time photographer Bart Mitchell arrived just after 7:00 am, and we made the 15 minute cruise over to Skip Fordyce in Riverside.
Riders were all ready there by the thousands staged on a four block stretch of Indiana Avenue. The morning began to warm into what would become a magnificent day. I ran into many familiar faces I had not seen in sometime. But my mission on this day was to observe the people and the ceremony that was to take place.
As a Mother of a two time combat veteran there are some things that tug on my heart. The Colors were presented by Cal State San Bernardino ROTC and was followed by Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, then Taps. I can never get through it without shedding my fair share of tears. A long time friend Duane Ryan stayed by my side and offered a shoulder as I wept through the ceremony. I am eternally grateful to each and every warrior that has given his or her life and those who have served this great nation I am so proud to call my home.
Promptly at 9:11 the riders began to roll from Skip Fordyce, bikes carrying the Colors pulled forward first, followed by a fire truck and convertibles with the city officials. Then, it was time for the people. It’s ‘The People’ who step up and make this ride the single largest bike event this side of the Mississippi. There is no word as of yet what those numbers are, and I will update you at a later time.
A Huey Helicopter donated by Wings and Rotors whopped overhead. Old Glory blew gently in the morning breeze; the riders passing beneath her waved their own flags as they headed east into the morning sunshine.
The route was lined with people of all nationalities, young and old, veterans stood in a solitary solute as we passed. No matter the age or nationality, they all had one thing in common, they were Americans. They were standing in the beds of pickup trucks, and next to their lawn chairs and on bicycles, babies in strollers… proudly, they cheered and they clapped, they waved their own flags and I thought yes, “Patriotism is alive and well here in America.”
As a nation we have suffered our wounds, wiped off the dirt, picked ourselves up and got back to work. We have grieved for the men and women whom have been lost in battles far from home. We take this day to thank them and show our appreciation to the families that were left behind. As a nation we reach out to touch the wounds of war left on the hearts of mothers and fathers, children who will never know the touch of their father.
We welcomed their brothers and sisters back, battle scared with open arms and we support them in every way that we can. We take every opportunity to shake the hand of our military men and women and say “Thank You for watching over me and my country.”
On this morning, thousands of bikers did just that. With the twist of the throttle the rap of riders’ pipes said thank you in the form of Rolling Thunder that moved its way through Riverside California and past the resting place of over two hundred thousand Veterans at the Riverside National Cemetery.
The vibe in the Amphitheater sponsored by Soboba Indian Casino was positive with lots of vendors and good music. The Farm took stage at 11:30 am and seriously rocked with a sound that made you want to dance with plenty of feel good fiddlin’ and down home happy harmony. The Farm is a trio of voices that were born to be together. In what appeared to be unplanned, they took a moment to sing the National Anthem a Capella Their version was unforced, natural and perfectly in tune with the mood for the day.
Nick, Krista and Damien work the stage and their music like they have been together forever, when in fact; it’s only been two years since their first sit down and the birth of “Home Sweet Home”. The magic of a fiddle, a riff that Nick had been flirting with and three heads just wanting to make good music on a warm Tennessee afternoon… and you can bet the Farm, you’ll be hearing more.
Uncle Kracker took stage and in his usual fashion wowed the women and shook things up. Some of the crowd moved from their seats to push up front toward the stage or off to the side where they had a little room to dance, whether they were alone or with a partner, didn’t seem to matter. They danced.
The Farm and Uncle Kracker were vibrant and took time back stage with those invited for a meet and greet signing autographs and taking photos with guest. They were all warm and engaging to everyone, me included.
West Coast Thunder and The Riverside National Support Committee are dedicated to memorializing the Veterans of The United States of America. Only with your help can they see the Memorials that our past present and future military men and women deserve, come to fruition. The current goal for Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee is the building of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial West Wall, a marble replica of The Wall in Washington DC.
It is my greatest desire to see this memorial completed in my life time. At a cost of millions of dollars, and years to plan, we need to step it up. You can make a donation on line to the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committe here.
Sharon Bridges at Skip Fordyce and HOG member Teri King really stepped up, giving Bart Mitchell and I all access for event coverage and couldn’t have been nicer. Both ladies were running on nothing more than adrenaline being pulled in several directions at once, yet they managed to keep smiling through it all, for what turned out to be a beautiful event that I am very proud to have been a part of.
I bumped into Pat Delehunty later in the afternoon. He had a stogie in one hand and a beer in the other, he was a happy man. With his good friend and fellow organizer of West Coast Thunder Don Odell by his side, he said “Anticipating the event is the best part of the whole thing.”
I am personally looking forward to next year’s event and encouraging others to attend, or at the very least, take a minute to donate to a very worthy cause.