MARSEILLES, Ill. — Motorcyclists traveling from California to Washington, D.C. made a stop in Marseilles Tuesday to pay their respects to troops lost in Middle East conflicts.
Don Dombrowski, a board member for the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial, said the group, which included about 90 motorcycles, was part of the annual National Veterans Awareness Ride. The group came in from their last stop in Davenport, Iowa and was planning on heading to Michigan City, Ind.
“They’re here to honor the fallen and remember the names on the wall and remember the gold-star families,” he said, indicating families who have lost loved ones.
Dombrowski said the group was stopping at places like the wall in Marseilles and veterans homes on their cross-country trek before joining up with the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally in Washington, D.C. for Memorial Day.
The group took part in a wreath-laying ceremony and heard a few words from the memorial board’s vice president, John Bartosiewicz.
After the ceremony, Bartosiewicz said he’s glad that groups like the ride come through to reflect and remember those who have lost their lives.
“Being a biker and a Vietnam veteran, I’m feeling honored just having them come out,” he said. “The majority of them are veterans, and family of veterans, that come out.”
Bartosiewicz said this group has stopped in Marseilles for about five years.
“It’s nice to see them, that they’re not forgetting Middle East conflicts,” he said.
Bartosiewicz became involved with the memorial, which features the names of about 8,000 men and women, because it was a way to remember veterans locally.
He noted that the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial has about 17 names of people that he knows, from people he served with to people he grew up with.
“I can’t make it to D.C. every year, but I can make it here,” he said.
Board members are looking ahead to an even bigger event set in June. The memorial will host the 10th Annual Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run on June 16. Line-up for motorcyclists will start at 6 a.m. at the Grundy County Fairgrounds, with participants leaving at 10:30 a.m. to start the 30-mile route to the Marseilles site. The cost to participate is $15. A ceremony is set for 1 p.m.
For more information on the run, visit www.ilmotorcyclefreedomrun.org.