“Ride to Remember” honors fallen Kentucky National Guard members

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Story and photos by Spc. Michelle Waters, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Kentuck National Guard Memorial Ride

Bikers from across the Commonwealth attended the Kentucky National Guard Memorial "Ride to Remember" which ended with a huge celebration at the Healing Field in Lawrenceburg, Ky. (Photo by Spc. Michelle Waters, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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LAWRENCEBURG, KY. — They started their journey from 17 different communities across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, riding on iron horses in the early morning hours over hundreds of miles of rough roads; many were friends, some were strangers, but they all had a common bond — to show their support for fallen Soldiers and Airmen that they didn’t even know.

More than 500 motorcyclists converged on Lawrenceburg, Ky. on August 13 in a “Ride to Remember” and raise money for the construction of the proposed Kentucky National Guard Memorial.

“I came here today to pay tribute to those that have gone before us and to show my support to the troops still serving,” said Stephen L. McDonald, a retired first sergeant and avid motorcycle rider.

“This is the right thing to do because Kentucky does not have a memorial to honor our own,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daren Bowen, Kentucky National Guard recruiter and vice president of Rolling Thunder Chapter 13 based in Bowling Green. “We would have  rode across Kentucky to help get one.”

Kentucky Guardsman Sgt. 1st Class Daren Bowen, Vice President of the Rolling Thunder Chapter 13, studies the artwork on a bike during the Kentucky National Guard "Ride to Remember" in Lawrenceburg, Ky. (Photo by Spc. Michelle Waters, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

The memorial, which will be located at the entrance of the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, is a tribute to the Soldiers that lost their lives while serving the Commonwealth of Kentucky and overseas.

“Time and time again, Kentucky Guardsmen have answered the call of duty in time of war, civil unrest and natural disaster,” said John Trowbridge, Kentucky National Guard command historian and chairman of the memorial fund. “Since March of 1912, many Soldiers and Airmen have made the ultimate sacrifice.  We are researching records to compile a complete and accurate list of the actual casualty during this time period.

The memorial will cost an estimated $700,000 to construct.  Roughly $28,000 has been raised from the memorial bike ride alone from donations from the bikers and local contributors.

“This has been a great turnout. It has matched our wildest expectations,” said Jason LeMay, secretary for the memorial fund.

Kentucky National Guard Memorial Ride

Bikers arrive at the Healing Field in Lawrenceburg, Ky. in celebration of the Kentucky National Guard Memorial "Ride to Remember." (Photo by Spc. Michelle Waters, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

“We had live music, food, raffles and booths set up for display,” said Joe Wilkins, a retired National Guard warrant officer and a committee member for the memorial fund.  “We wanted to make sure everyone had a good time after traveling such great distances.”

If you feel left out, don’t despair.  There’s talk about doing another ride next year.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to make a donation, make your check payable to: Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., and send to PO Box 5466 Frankfort, KY  40602-5466.

You can also visit  www.kyngmemorial.com for more information.

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