West Texans Honor the Fallen at "Ride to Remember's" 15th Anniversary
May 26, 2014 at 11:51 PM CDT - Updated July 27 at 7:15 AM
By Alicia Neaves
MIDLAND - Hundreds of motorcyclists united on Monday to ride through West Texas, honoring the fallen during their "Ride to Remember." This Memorial Day served as a landmark for the event.
It started out as an idea in 1999. The founders of the event put up flyers, hoping to round up a few more bikers to join their ride commemorating soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Now, on its 15th anniversary, it has grown from 40 bikers to nearly 900.
"We're not a parade. We're here to remember. To remember the fallen, the ones that gave the ultimate sacrifice," Sandy Dunlap, Member of the Honor Flight and Patriot Guard Riders, said.
Hundreds of friends, family members and strangers to the fallen gathered Monday morning at the Permian Basin Vietnam Memorial.
"I lost my father last year, so this will be my first Memorial Day without my dad who is a Korean vet," Dunlap said.
Families who lost their children while they fought for our country stood proud, as others saluted the bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"It's always meant so much to me to remember them and to honor all those who sacrificed their lives for us so we have these freedoms that we have today," Dunlap said.
Bikers from all around the Permian Basin geared up and rode off onto our West Texas highways.
"I stand on the corner where the bikers go north and I give them a farewell. I've been doing it for five to six years," Oscar Garcia, father of an Air Force active member, said.
Oscar's son has been deployed 19 times. Oscar honors his son and his friends whose lives were cut short.
"Freedom is not free. Men and women serving our country are out there 24/7 for us to have this," Garcia said.
Knowing what they did for him, for his family, for our nation, has him standing in the same place for the past six years waving goodbye to those who ride.
A quote shared at the memorial on Monday captured the hearts of many, "Do not mourn that such men died, but thank God that such men lived."
The Memorial Day Ride to Remember expects this commemorative ride to keep growing. Next year, many are expecting over 1,000 bikers.