COLUMBIA - Motorcycle riders are leaving Wednesday morning after meeting Columbia families to help honor their fallen heroes.
Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest, a non-profit that honors those who died in military service, met with two families to remember the sacrifice their family member made. Members from the American Legion joined in the visit on their motorcycles as well.
Warren Williamson is the executive director of Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest. He said this is the eighth year the organization has done the cross country motorcycle ride.
“We do it for one reason only, and that’s to make sure the families are reminded their fallen soldier hasn’t been forgotten,” Williamson said.
This year they are riding through 15 different states for 17 days. They start in Oregon to visit 53 families and finish in Washington D.C. The riders lit a torch in Oregon and will keep it lit until they get to the Arlington National Cemetery on August 2nd. Once they reach the cemetery they will extinguish the flame in memory of all fallen soldiers.
Ron McMillan is the commander of the American Legion Post 202, based in Columbia, and opened up the post for the group to eat dinner and stay the night.
“We just have to remember those that gave their lives before us and this is one way to honor everybody,” McMillan said.
The riders visited one family at Bass Pro Shops and the other at Columbia Orthopedic Group. They gave the family members a plaque of distinguished service and a painted portrait of the fallen hero.
“These items don’t bring back family members, but it gives them something to hold onto that they can hang on a wall and know that these strangers came along to know that we’re loving their fallen soldier and honoring them,” Williamson said.
He said there is a common thread between all of the families he meets on these rides.
“They are so scared that people would forget their fallen soldier no matter if it’s been a year or 13 years,” Williamson said. “They're scared that after they lay their fallen hero to rest that people are simply going to go on with their lives and forget, and we’re not going to let that happen.”
The riders leave the American Legion Wednesday morning at around 8:30 a.m. They encourage anyone to come out and cheer on the riders as they go to St. Louis.