2018 Flags Across the Dam

By Sasha Johnson

The sun at 9am in Southern Nevada on a Sunday morning seems to taunt everyone with the promise to set the valley ablaze this summer, but for now, a balmy 84 degrees will suffice. Today in Boulder City, over 500 motorcycles with flags rigidly attached will travel across the Hoover Dam.  I wouldn’t miss this event for the world!

The Vietnam Vets Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club started this successful run back in 1994. The ride has gained significant momentum throughout the years and is now a favorite run among many a motorcyclist around the Las Vegas Valley. It’s most likely one of the more popular events in Southern Nevada because of the significance it holds within the biker community. The gravity of so many  bikes, each donning a flag of its own, rolling down to cross the dam is so compelling that there are designated spots for spectators to watch the run!

The impact of all the bikes ready and waiting at the top of the hill on the Arizona side of the dam is immense. Red, white and blue as far as the eye can see on bikes of all shapes and sizes. There are also trikes, trucks, and a group of Polaris Slingshots thrown in for good measure.

The Hoover Dam

The vast, expansive site of Hoover Dam is quite a sight to see. Constructed over the better part of six years between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression, it stands at the height of an impressive 726 feet. As today is a special occasion, people have lined up across the bridge of the dam to wave their flags and cheer on the motorcade.

As the temperature steadily creeps to a dry 88 degrees, we all mount up and prepare to ride. The rumble of the first engine prompts the crowd of onlookers to break out in encouraging cheers, and then we’re off! We steadily travel down the hill, out of Arizona and into Nevada via the Hoover Dam bridge.

Memorial Day Service

The convoy of over 500 flag-flying bikes then continues the two and a half mile ride to the Southern Nevada Veterans Cemetery for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The sacred graveyard is a sobering realization of just how many great men and women have fought and died for our freedom. Suddenly my mind focuses in on a bereaved thought in the back of my brain. This cemetery is huge, and there are countless others just like it throughout our great country.

The president of the Vietnam Vets Legacy Vets, “Arrow,” leads the opening ceremony as we approach the scene of hundreds of bikers that have gathered around the memorial fountains and commemorative headstones.

A group of veteran Green Berets stand at attention as we observe a moment of silence in honor of those who have fallen in the line of duty. The magnitude of this moment rests heavy on the heart. The stillness is broken only by the first notes of Taps performed by dual bugle players.

As the bugles play on, a wave of emotion passes through the crowd. It’s moments like these when true reflection comes into play. As I look around, many men and women wipe tears from their eyes. Some are so overcome with emotion that they must walk away from the observance area.

Closing Ceremonies

The ceremony comes to an end as the last few notes of the bugle fade off into silence again. A stillness comes over the crowd while we are all thanked by a veteran Green Beret for participating in the run. The irony is not lost on the crowd. We should be thanking him and his brothers for everything they’ve done for this country.

Once the crowd starts to dissipate, we begin to walk towards the entrance of the cemetery. I find “Professor,” the president of Black Patch MC sitting alone on a bench in the middle of a hundred or so gravesites, each adorned with a miniature flag of their own.

“When they start blowin’ Taps, I just lose it.” He says this somberly in the hushed tone reserved mainly for the churchyard.

We make our way out the cemetery gates and back to the bikes to saddle up once again and head out to the after party that is held at the Sin-City Clubhouse.

Not only was this a great motorcycle event, but it was also an excellent representation of how Memorial Day should be celebrated, in remembrance and honor for those who have laid down their lives for our country and our freedom.