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Robesonia Pa, - Beth Sattizahn

So, by now you get that bikers are loud…and proud when they are riding for a good cause – right?  If you need just a little more convincing, let me tell you a little story.  Thirteen local bikers, the Iron Horse Helpers (IHH), over the past 5 years have been rallying bikers and car enthusiasts together for great causes.  Just when there is so much turmoil in the middle east,  and we all know at least one person if not more, or have a loved one serving currently overseas, or we have family and friends who have served, some paying the ultimate sacrifice – these bikers brought unity and camaraderie to rally for our Nation’s Veterans.  It’s not about whether or not you agreed with Vietnam, Desert Storm or Iraqi Freedom.  Men and women died as warriors and heroes for our country, the country we live freely in today, much more freely than most other countries in the world.  If you’re in doubt, there’s always a way out of America.  Who cares if you don’t like this President?  The last one sent our men and women to do what should have and could have been done in 5 months, not 5 years and countless lost souls later.  My point is, every time a command was issued, men and women who choose freely to serve our country in one of the armed forces, went to keep me and you out of harms way, whether on our own soil or another country’s soil.  So the very least I could do was ride, be loud and proud, to support our Veterans.
It all began just over a year ago when Barry Jacobs had an idea.  He wanted the IHH’s 2009 focus to be for Veterans.  To do good for Veterans.  Monthly / weekly meetings were held by the 13 members.  Barry & Diana Jacobs, Ron and Michelle Becker, Scott and Donna Jacobs, Roger and Linda Jacobs, Karen and Jim Keppley, Sharon Gerhart, John Schultz and Paul Harding.  Each meeting carefully planning the events and the grand finale, a day at the Lebanon VA Medical Center bringing our thanks and paying respect in many different forms.  So began the Winter Bash, Bike Washes by Babes, stands at local carnivals and the Poker Run.  Countless people showed support.  The Grande finale plans were laid, with the help of so many and in coordination with the Deputy Adjutant General of the Dept of Military and Veterans Affairs, Scott Wagner.  The day is finally here.  200 motorcycles and 20 classic cars made the trip adorned in American Flags leaving the Flag Factory on a police escorted ride to the Lebanon VA Medical Center.  As we all gathered at the flag factory, the Womelsdorf Fire Company displayed the American flag, local EMS and police were also on hand. There were food and beverage stands to pass the time while we socialized with old friends and made new ones.  Randy Gartner was on hand spinning some great tunes as bikes and cars staged for the ride.  With flag adorned bikes and cars, State Police from Jonestown barracks led the ride up 422 as onlookers stood with flags to show their support along the route.  Local fire police also blocked intersections and made it safe for all participants.
The riders, made up of Vietnam Vets, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom Vets, a wide variety and representation of the great people who served this country for our freedoms, and those of us who wanted to show our support.  Among the riders was Robert Harris, “Sky Soldier" 173rd. Airborne, Vietnam 1965-66, who traveled from FL and all across the states to bring attention to Veterans and raising support and awareness of the needs of our Veterans with his Veterans Tribute Bike.  Did you know that ¼ of America’s homeless are Vets??  Unreal!  As we arrived at the VA Medical Center, the Vets were being brought outside to enjoy the ceremony planned to honor them.  Some pushed out in wheelchairs and some were able to walk out to join the event.  Marine Corp Color Guard waited and opened the ceremony with presentation of the colors/flag followed by a live performance of the National Anthem by yours truly, during which time you could hear the voices rising from the group of honored attendees.  Barry Jacobs addressed the crowd and introduced the IHH group.  Next we heard from Scott Wagner, Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans’ Affairs; Bob Callahan, Lebanon VA Medical Center Director, and Bill Meiser, an Air Force Veteran who lives daily with the scars of war and serving his country who also led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.  His testimony regarding the care of the DMVA was refreshing.  To learn our Veterans are finally being treated with the respect and care deserving of the sacrifices made….for me and for you.  On such a blazing hot day, the VA Angels, a volunteer group, was on hand with cold water to support this great event.  The speeches were over and the best was yet to come.  From the sky, four divers displayed skill and precision as they parachuted safely to the ground below.  To watch the final parachutist maneuver through the sky with a large flying American  Flag serenaded by a patriotic tune, was the moment in the day when I realized how much I love America.  How much I truly respect and honor those who serve for us.  Away from their families and friends, in lands and places we can’t even imagine.  As the flying flag approached the ground, the IHH strategically moved to lower the flag down without it touching the ground, again moving to witness respect for our Nation’s flag.  Many thanks to Tim and Sue Achenbach for making the parachute display possible.  Many thanks to Randy Gartner for providing music-so real, I thought Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood were on site.  After most of the riders left, the IHH delivered ‘goody bags’ filled with items for the Veterans, gift cards for the hospital canteen and store, personal toiletries, etc.  In addition, the donations generously provided by the days riders/drivers were delivered – pajamas, clothes, slippers, and other toiletries.  It was like Christmas in July and for some, the only gifts they receive.  So next time you see a Veteran, extend your hand in thanks and remember their sacrifice so that we can speak, write and act freely in this United States of America.  It was for you and me.  Doesn’t matter if they were deployed, in combat, served stateside, or even in Hawaii – more than I’ve done for my country and I’m grateful.  Another successful IHH event and one so moving. How will they ever top that next year??  Website www.veterantributebike.org


 

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September 01, 2009 | Issue 66 | Copyright © 2004 Our Robesonia & Beth Sattizahn. All Rights Reserved.

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