It was 8:30 A.M. on May 24, 2007, approximately two hundred bikers are gathered together at the Law Offices of Weigel, Carlson, Blau, and Clemens, S.C., at 3732 West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In about half an hour, they will begin their annual trek to Washington D.C. to honor all veterans of all wars. It is a ride, a party, and a protest all rolled into one. A few of these bikers are making the trek for the first time, most have taken this ride before, a few are making this particular journey for the fifteenth year.
It all started when the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1982. Over the next five years, bikers rode in two and threes to honor the boys on “the Wall”. In 1987, the first organized ride to D.C. occurred on Memorial day week-end, it was sponsored by a fledgling organization named, Rolling Thunder. Five years later, Run To The Wall was born when Ken “Polack” Pezewski and Bud “Kickstand” Tiutczenko made the first ride sponsored by the partners. The partners being Attorneys Joe Weigel, David Blau, and Chris Clemens. They provide money to cover the tolls on the way to D.C., a commemorative T-shirt, designed by Polack, given freely, but, only to those people riding in our group and their support staff. They also provide the chase truck so that no one gets left behind.
This year’s pre-ride ceremony began with a benediction by Chaplin Ray Korry, from Wood V.A. Hospital, followed by Tom Barton singing The National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, and Willie G. Davidson addressing the crowd. Just prior to rolling out, “Polack” gave the final safety and travel instructions and we were off. Leaving the parking lot, we traveled past the United Community Center, where 900 kids waved American flags. It was a tear-jerking sendoff.
We left Milwaukee with a police escort, made a gas stop every hundred miles or so, and arrived in eastern Ohio late Thursday afternoon. Friday found us headed into D.C., the weather was great for riding and the bikes were running fantastic. Much to the relief of Steve, the chase truck driver. Arriving in D.C. around 6 P. M., we checked in and waited for the chase truck to arrive with the bulk of our supplies.
Saturday found some sleeping in, others touring the city. A contingent had gone to the Smithsonian to view the Wisconsin Memorial bike, a custom motorcycle, built by Wisconsin bikers, delivered to “The Wall” in 1995. A gift of remembrance, from the people of Wisconsin to the heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the country they love and the government that forgot them.
This was a special year, a film crew interviewed members of the committee that built the bike. Raising the possibility that the population at large might one day hear of the bikers who ride for those who can’t and the bike they built for the heroes on “The Wall”.
Saturday night we had our Hawaiian theme party. How would you like to drink all you like, eat all you can, and hang out with brother bikers, all for a very nominal fee. The down side is wearing Hawaiian attire. But face it, you have not lived until you’ve seen a biker in a grass skirt and coconut bra.
Sunday morning came so soon, the main purpose of this ride had arrived, the film crew from yesterday met us at the motel. They rode along to the Pentagon parking lot where we met up with in excess of 500 thousand motorcycles assembled to be part of a parade to protest the treatment of America’s prisoners of war and missing in action. The first bikes rolled out four abreast at noon, the last bikes about four and a half hours later.
On Monday morning the chase truck headed for home, anyone could travel along. However, many people took this opportunity to see other sites on our eastern seaboard.
If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, give us a call at 1-414-342-1000 or 1-800-486-0106, ask for Ken (Polack), Sue (Squirrel), or Steve (hasn’t earned a road name yet).