MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX (KWES) - It's a time when many people are out barbecuing or enjoying time with their families. But for others, it's not the same.
"Freedom is not free," said Vietnam veteran Bill "Wild Bill" McNeill. "Your freedom is bought by somebody else's blood in their lives. That's what Memorial Day is. We honor the nation's war dead for this country that gave their lives so we can be free and enjoy our weekend. It seems to me a lot of people are forgetting that."
That's the reason the Permian Basin Ride to Remember has been in effect for 18 years. You'll see motorcyclists covering the streets and riding through the Basin tomorrow morning.
"Ron Gray and myself started this ride in 1999 with 35 motorcycles, last year we had 500," said McNeill. "What is missing from the ride is the people of Midland and Odessa. We might see 200 or 300 people. But in Andrews, we see thousands of people. Come line the streets and remember."
The ride will begin at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Midland and end at the Veterans Memorial in Andrews for a service. But it's not the sight of seeing hundreds of motorcyclists that's important. It's why.
"When they see us ride by, don't look at us. Look at who we're riding for. We're riding for the dead," said McNeill. "We're riding for our heroes and this country's heroes. That's why we're doing it."
McNeill asks for everyone in the area to attend, bring a flag, but remember the message. Remember a memory of soldiers who never made it home.
"This country was founded on blood," he said. "It's the blood of the American warriors that have fought for this country in every war, and fought to keep us free. That's what people need to remember."
The memorial service will begin at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Midland at 9:00 a.m. The ride will head to Wall Street, leave on Andrews Highway to 191, to Yukon Road in Odessa and finish in Andrews at the Andrews County Veterans Memorial. There will be service provided by a Gold Star family that will feed the vets.