KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Hundreds of motorcyclists are riding across the country as part of Run For The Wall, a 27 year tradition that starts in California and ends in Washington D.C.
Veterans, their friends and families riding for 10 days across the country ending at memorials in the nation’s capital. One group of them with 257 riders stopped at the War Veteran’s Memorial in World’s Fair Park.
“We go to VA hospitals and see the patients. We try to go to schools and see the kids,” said Billy Smith from Washington.
Their ride begins in California, three groups thundering through the country on different routes into Washington D.C. raising awareness and support for our veterans.
“A lot of my friends who are non-veterans will come and support it, and they know more about this issues of MIA, POWs and healing of veterans,” said Kristy Smith.
Generations of veterans and riders line up.
Slideshow: Run for the Wall’s stop in World’s Fair Park
Billy Smith serves in the Army. His father is a Vietnam vet and the whole family rides.
“If it wasn’t for the fact that I remember him coming home from Vietnam I would have never known he went because he would never talk about it,” he said.
He says the ride has changed his perspective.
“It’s all about healing. I’ve got friends on here that couldn’t talk to anybody about anything to do with their service, and now they just clown around and have a good time about it because they’re with their own,” he said.
They come from all over the country and around the world. Australian Peter Green now lives in South Carolina and rides in memory of two friends.
“To watch the guys open up and such and talk about the demons that they could never address and talk about their past and their experiences that went on in their wartime is truly incredible,” he said.
It is the support along the way that pushes them forward. People line the streets, saluting and waving.
“Oh it’s just amazing. The patriotism that goes across this country is just unbelievable. It really is,” said Green.