Aug 17, 2013 7:46 PM by Tony Spehar - firstname.lastname@example.org
Around 3,500 motorcyclists rode from Woodland Park through downtown Cripple Creek on Saturday as part of the 21st Annual Salute to American Veterans Rally that marked the official renaming of Highway 67 between Divide and Cripple Creek as the POW/MIA Memorial Highway.
The procession left Woodland Park just after 10 a.m. and arrived in Cripple Creek just after 11 a.m. The line of motorcycles was so long it took the entire parade over half-an-hour to pass through the downtown area. The roar of engines and the sight of the motorcyclists driving under a huge American flag hung over the street was a stirring scene for the thousands of veterans attending the rally including Vietnam veteran Bill Cordson of Elizabeth, CO.
"It's a long time coming for Vietnam vets and we don't want anybody to forget about us and we're darn sure not forgetting about the vets coming home today," Cordson said.
Over 5,000 motorcyclists who had already driven to Cripple Creek lined the streets along with hundreds of visitors and residents waving American flags to welcome the riders to town.
"I always welcome home a Vietnam vet because we weren't welcomed home," Cordson explained as the procession passed. "It's a very, very humbling experience to be part of this."
The Salute to American Veterans Rally was started in the 1980s by Jim Wear and a group of friends to raise awareness of veteran's issues and honor prisoners of war and those missing in action from all of America's conflicts. Wear said he was inspired to start the rally when a group of young people didn't recognize the meaning of the POW/MIA patches he sold in his motorcycle shop. What started as a small group riding through Colorado Springs grew quickly.
"25 bikes turned into 2,500 bikes and a little 30-minute ride turned into a three-day rally and we just keep doing it every year," Wear explained.
But, this year's events held a very special meaning. At the POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony after the ride three former POWs cut the ribbon on the newly named POW/MIA Memorial Highway. The rally committee and local veteran's group worked for years to rename Highway 67 and this year the Colorado State Senate approved the new name.
"When all these people here are long gone those signs will still stand and will proclaim to the POWs and the MIAs that you are not forgotten," Wear said.
Festivities and ceremonies for the rally continue on Sunday, more information can be found at www.theveteransrally.com