20th annual SALUTE TO AMERICAN VETERANS RALLY
August 17 - August 19 2012
By: Michele Ross
HONOR – PATRIOTISM – FREEDOM
The annual Salute to American Veterans Rally rode into Cripple Creek for a thunderous 20th year, while Saturday marked the 25th year of the POW/MIA recognition ride.
Led by a police escort, thousand of bikers traveled from the Woodland Park staging area to downtown Cripple Creek. Their ride took them through the beautiful Rocky Mountains to Cripple Creeks Bennett Avenue, where 1000s of patriotic Americans lined both sides the street to watch what is being called the largest procession of motorcycles in Colorado. They ride to pay tribute and respect to America's Prisoners Of War and Missing In Action service members. Watching these bikers roll into town, most with American & or POW/MIA flags proudly displayed on their bikes makes you keanly aware that everyone of them understands the true meaning of patriotism.
The POW/MIA Recognition Ride is a highly organized motorcycle run and one of many highlights of the multi-day event. Certainly one not to be missed! The rally which began on the 17th and ended on the 19th featured a 480 feet long, 80% sized replica of The Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C (held at the Cripple Creek High School). The event also hosted; Veterans Poker Runs, POW/MIA Recognition Ride, Veterans Parade, A Signature Wall, Flyovers, Gunfight Re-Enactments, Ride-in Custon & Classic Motorcycle Show, Memorial Ceremony/Dedication - Cripple Creek War Memorial and lots of live music, dancing and a whole lot of fun. It is by far one of the coolest events in Colorado!
One of my favorite moments was early Saturday morning. I stood in awe watching the Cripple Creek Fire Department raise a 40 foot flag using two fire trucks. This flag was the focal point of Bennett Avenue and a picture op for everyone.
Another favorite moment was watching the Veterans sign the Signature Wall. I watched for hours as Vets from all walks of life and all branches of the military found a spot on the wall to write their message. It wasn't long before I became fixated on their vests/jackets. It was fascinating to see where everyone came from, or what club they rode with. I especially loved talking with Jerry Manka. Pushing 80, Mr Manka had been manning the Signature Wall with his wife from his motorized wheel chair. He told me stories that brought tears to my eyes and I think to his as well.
Kudos to Jerry for his compassion and dedication. Kudos to all the men and women and the Sons of Silence for such a smooth event. It was a job well done! I am already looking forward to next year!
For more information on this rally you can visit their Website.