Sunday Santa’s helpers got a head start on Christmas with the 30th annual Toy Run for the Salvation Army. Steve Tarbax with the American Legion Riders said, “It’s everybody coming to the rescue.”
The ride started at the Department of Safety in Concord and went to New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News offices in Manchester. More than one thousand riders joined in on the ride. New Hampshire Motorcyclist’ Rights Organization helps bring out riders and clubs for their annual event.This is also the kickoff for the Union Leader Santa Fund efforts to assist the Salvation Army. Each rider brings at least one toy to donate to the Salvation Army.
“It is nice to be a part of something so rewarding,” said Barbara Putnam. She and Mark James pulled up with a Harley full of toys and a trailer full as well. Beginning the day after the ride James begins to collect toys throughout the year for the ride. This year was no exception as James showed up with dozens of stuffed animals, games and other toys tied to his bike with twine. His trailer was also packed full of toys and a bicycle and a big wheel like the one given to him as a small boy. He said it was good to be able to pay it forward.
Salvation Army’s Sgt. Herb Rader joined in on the fun riding his Yamaha FJR 1300 saying he loves riding and has since he was eleven years old. He along with his wife Lt. Miriam Rader helped more than nine hundred families last Christmas.
The fund also gives to the seniors and the infirm and also provides camping opportunities for inner-city children and other programs.
DNA is the reason you like to ride motorcycles according to a study conducted by Bennetts. The theory according to the study is that motorcyclists have a genetic predisposition in the form of a novelty seeking (NS) gene. This particular gene brings out a tendency for impulsive, risk taking behavior.
An amazing sixty-eight percent say that bikers were introduced by an immediate family member.
People can often be defined by their motorcycle. Seventy-three percent of bikers said their likes defined who they are. Sixty-two percent said they couldn’t live without their bikes and others said they considered their bike a family member. Some even consider their bikes as an extension of their personality.
Psychologists know from studies of twins that sixty percent of personality traits are inherited. Upbringing and opportunity also has a role to play. Most bikers were introduced to biking by a family member which also links to the NS gene or risk taker gene and the bikers attachment emotionally to his/her bike ranked very high scores.
So, the majority of biking families will be passing on this “NS” gene according to the research. In an environment reinforced by bikers setting an example and sharing their love for biking makes it pretty clear it is truly in the blood!
Have you ever wondered why bikers like skulls on their bikes? I found some interesting facts and opinions on this subject. Most believe that one of the reasons is the dangers and risks of the sport of riding a motorcycle. We like skulls because we are constantly reminded that we live a dangerous existence, and more so by riding a two wheeled doomsday machine. We are afraid of death as a people. So we embrace the fear and the fear dies leaving one to truly live for today. Skulls are a way of embracing and defeating this fear.
Then of course there are some bikers that sport skulls and other dark symbols to stand apart from everyone else, stand their ground. After all skulls represent something bad is coming or something that brings fear with it. It has also been said that Bikers as well as military, utilize the skull as signification of reckless machoism barely protected from disaster or doomed bravery that accepts their fate.
I certainly have a new view of bikers and skulls and it makes perfect sense. It appears that the vast majority of bikers wear or sport skulls to remind them to ride they must face danger and death. Honestly, I think that is incredibly brave. I will never look at skull patches, tattoos or paint jobs the same. I will remember to respect the biker and the skull for what it truly represents.
20-year-old Justin Whitmire was an Army medic with aspirations of being a doctor when his time in the military was through. He was also a faithful member of his church in Mauldin, South Carolina and a mentor to many of the younger boys in the congregation who looked up to him. Today Justin’s hometown of Simpsonville joined his family in mourning his loss; he was killed by a roadside bomb on just his 19th day of active duty in Afghanistan.
On Saturday, January 7 2011, thousands of supporters came to show their respect and honor the fallen hero as his funeral procession made its way down the city’s main street to the cemetery where his body was laid to rest. Leading the procession was the Patriot Guard, a national organization of motorcycle riders whose primary mission is to make sure military funerals are treated with the respect, honor, and civility they deserve. The group led Whitmire’s procession from the parking lot of the funeral home right to the entrance of the cemetery, where the casket was transferred to a horse-drawn garrison.
The members of the Patriot Guard believe it’s important to stand alongside in support of the family members of fallen soldiers. They believe, like so many of us, that the selfless men and women who give their lives in defense of this country and the ideals of liberty don’t deserve to be impugned or maligned; rather, we all owe them an unpayable debt of gratitude for their sacrifice. Showing respect by guaranteeing funeral services remain respectful and honoring is one way the Patriot Guard can help. We join them in saying thank you, and may God bless you, to Justin and the entire Whitmire family.
I became a Patriot Guard Rider along with my wife about 2 1/2 months ago. The Patriot Guard Riders are a group of people from all walks of life and from all over the country, who stand in support of our great military heros’ both past and present. The Patriot Guard was initially formed to protect the families of soldiers who have passed on from protesters who attempted to disrupt memorial services and funerals and provide a peaceful safe presence while they honor their deceased. Since its’ inception the Patriot Guard has grown to in excess of 200,000 members. I am very proud to be counted in that great number. My experiences with the Patriot Guard Riders began with my first mission of standing a flag line and escorting a Korean War veteran to his final resting place. Thus began a continuing journey of service that for me has been both humbling and extremely fulfilling. I have stood at the side of my brother and sister members, some of us motorcycle riders and some not, some of us veterans and some of us not, as we as well as family and friends, honor the fallen. I have stood at the gravesites of both young and old. One mission I had the privilege of attending was for 9 year old Odie Harris. This young man lost his battle with cancer at an all to young age. It was Odies’ dream to beat his cancer and live to become a career Marine. His dream was fulfilled when he was made both an Honorary Young Marine by The Bossier Parish Louisiana Young Marines and by The United States Marine Corp. When Odie made his final roll call, his family requested the presence of the Patriot Guard to stand for him and escort him to his final resting place. What an honor it was to stand for this young man. Over 100 Patriot Guard Riders were in attendance. On this day I had both the American flag and The Marine Corp flags displayed on my bike. I was given the honor of being the lone rider to separate from the group and be placed directly in front of the coach carrying this Young Marine and escort him on his final mission. At his gravesite I was asked to bear the Marine Corp flag in his flagline. What a humbling honor! I have stood a flagline in above 100 degree heat on Memorial Day at The Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetary to honor the fallen heros’ from all wars who have given their lives for this country. What a blessing. I have also taken part in services for recent fallen heros. One of these was for SSGT. Michael Garcia. SSGT. Garcia was KIA in Afghanistan on 4 July 2011 after his vehicle was struck by an I.E.D. The Patriot Guard was called upon by his family to retrieve the remains of this American Hero at the airport and provide escort for him to the funeral home. There were again close to 100 riders present for this escort. As we returned to Bossier City to the funeral home, we were greeted by hundreds of people lining Airline Drive from I-220, some 2 miles to the funeral home. This public display with flags and banners waving put a tear in my eye. What a deserving show of respect for this unselfish young man. I experienced this same feeling as we stood a flagline for SSGT. Garcia the next day and as we escorted him to his final resting place the following. I have also had the honor of standing for veteran soldiers from wars past. One such veteran was Air Force Sgt.M.C. Gray, a Korean War vet from Plain Dealing,LA. How amazing it was to watch literally a whole town turn out to honor this man who had given many years of service to his country. Another mission I would like to share was for SGT. Christopher Soderlund. SGT. Soderlund was KIA 9 July 2011 by RPG fire in Afghanistan. He is from DeVille,LA. This young United States Army soldier was only 23 years old. We made a ride of over 150 miles to stand for him. He left behind a wife a two very young children. This was one of the toughest missions I have been on. My heart still grieves for this young soldiers family. It is truly heartwrenching to stand as you watch honor guard members present memorial flags to these young soldiers children under the age of 10. Some may ask why we in the Patriot Guard Riders do what we do and I can only answer for myself. I do it to stand in honor and respect for all my Brothers in Arms who have gone before me. I stand in honor and respect for their families who have made many sacrifices so that we may be free. Whenever we are called upon, no matter how far, no matter what kind of weather I will continue this journey until I complete my final mission myself and they stand for me.
This story comes from Cristie, submitted in exchange for military patches
Today is a very sad day for people living in Louisiana we have lost yet another one of our heroes. Sgt Christopher P. Soderlund 23 of Pineville, La died July 9, 2011 in Logar Province Afghanistan of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with rocket propelled grenade fire. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team,10th Mountain Division out of Fort Polk Louisiana. Sgt Soderlund joined the Army in March 2006. After training at Fort Benning Ga he was stationed at Fort Irwin, Ca. He arrived at Fort Polk in November of 2007 and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from December 2007 to January 2009. He deployed with his unit in October to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Sgt Soderlund’s award and decorations include the Bronze Star, The Purple Heart, The Army Commendation Medal, The Valorous Unit Award, The Army Good Conduct Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, The Iraq Campaign Medal, The Afghanistan Campaign Medal, The Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, The Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, The Army Service Ribbon, The Overseas Service Ribbon, The NATO Medal and The Combat Infantryman Badge. Sgt Soderlund is survived by his wife, two children, mother, father and stepfather. This comes just days after we brought SSGT Michael Garcia home. I was with the Patriot Guard and Ssgt Garcia’s family at the Shreveport Airport on July 11, 2011 when the plane carrying Ssgt Garcia’s body landed. This was a very sad and somber moment when the plane opened up and they carried his flag draped casket off. The last person to see Ssgt Michael Garcia’s casket was his 10 year old son Elijah who then wrapped his arms around his daddy’s casket and said “Why did you have to go daddy”. At that moment there was not a dry eye on that tarmac that hot summer day. It pains me to hear that Louisiana lost another brave hero. I now get to get ready to make that trip to be there and stand tall and proud for Sgt Soderlund and give him his final salute.