Last Saturday, September 11, I was one of about 1000 motorcycle riders participating in “Ride to the Flags,” from Ventura Country to Malibu, California, where a display of almost 3000 flags will honor the lives lost to Islamic suicide bombers on September 11, 2001. The ride was hosted by the Gary Sinise Charitable Foundation, and the proceeds go to the children of those who lose their lives in the service of our country’s defense against terrorism. Pre-ride entertainment was offered by Glen Campbell, and Ann-Margret (a veteran of Vietnam-era USO entertainment) was there to send us all off with her kind words of love and support.
It was a fascinating experience. This was the first major ride I’d done, and I’d never before witnessed over 1000 bikers and their spouses get together and mingle. I pointed out to my friend Patrick (a Harley newbie) and my husband (a Harley veteran) how affectionate the couples were. There were scores of husbands and wives, quite seasoned by time and riding, all in leather, chains, boots, head scarves and chaps, holding hands and wrapping arms around each other. The amount of affection between couples was mirrored by the affection between “regular folks” – mostly strangers to one another. It was the friendliest assemblage I’d ever had the pleasure to be with.
I was chatting with one woman who’d come over to introduce herself as a fan of my radio program. Later, one of the organizers came to me and asked me if I’d be willing to ride a Gold Star mom on my bike. For those of you who don’t know, a Gold Star mom is one who has lost her military child in the war on international terror. I, of course, agreed on the spot, saying I’d be honored. Well, who walked over to my bike but the mom I’d been chatting with. I had no idea she had lost her child, and I just about collapsed in a heap of sobs.
As we rode through the windy mountain roads, I was very aware I had treasured cargo behind me on my bike. It never left my mind she had produced a warrior who gave his life for me and you and every American. As I have a son who was also in combat in Afghanistan, I kept thinking I could have been one of those moms, instead of one who is anxiously awaiting her son’s visit in a month or so. I felt so bad for her, and worked so hard to drive the bike perfectly around those curves so as not to worry her. When we reached Malibu, I hugged her and said, “What can I say? I am your friend.” We exchanged email addresses, and she will forward me a photo of us taken on my bike before the ride. I’ll post it on my website.
I considered her “hallowed ground,” and that is why I can’t understand why the Imam who wants to place a mosque near Ground Zero doesn’t get that is hallowed ground as well.
I was honored to take care of a Gold Star mom – a mom who made the ultimate sacrifice, not willingly, but nobly nonetheless.