Sunday, May 17, 2009

Iowa Thunder Run 2009

When I saw on the Biker Chick News blog that May 17th was the Iowa Thunder Run I put it on my calendar as something Dan and I must do! I really didn't know what to expect since we have never ridden on this ride before. We left Johnston at a little after noon and made our way to Southridge Mall. You couldn't miss where the bikers were to meet in the mall parking lot. It was a sea of black leather dotted with American Flags. This was unlike the Abate Toy Run we had attended last October. The feeling was much more somber. The bikers in attendance seemed to be reflecting on who we were honoring today. I stood for a few minutes and watched as Vets hugged each other and shook hands. I felt sadness in my heart knowing that some of their Brothers and Sisters did not make it home alive.

At 1 pm the Des Moines Police Department alerted us that they were going to begin their escort of us down SE 14th Street. Engines roared to life. It sounded like Thunder in the mall parking lot. It's hard to tell how many motorcycles moved into formation, I would guess 350 or more. We were toward the back of the pack and it was an incredible sight seeing all of those bikes a few miles ahead. Going through all of the stop lights didn't have as much luster as it did on the toy run because my thoughts kept going to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. I kept thanking them in my head for what they do so that we could even be riding today. I thought of all the Vets from all the wars. I thought of all who have died, never to see their families and friends again. We were all letting them know in our own way that it was not in vain! Even with the way the world is changing there are still people out there, like me, that hold our Country, Our Military in the highest regard!

As soon as the ride began it ended. We pulled into a parking lot near the War Memorials by the Capital. There were more hugs and handshakes. And then we all headed into the Memorial site.

The haunting sounds of a Bagpiper played as we gathered at the Iowa Vietnam Memorial. We said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the Star Spangled Banner. Two Vietnam Veterans...Rabbi and Moose spoke to the crowd about Honoring our Military and thanked everyone that does special things for the Veterans.

Moose read an Essay called 1/2 Man 1/2 Boy. It really touched me and I'm including it in my post.
The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances, is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's, but he has never collected unemployment either.
He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.

He is 10 to 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling; thus letter writing is a pain for him. He can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and re-assemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of fatigues; he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes and fix his own hurts.

If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands.

He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.
He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away ' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat or even stop talking.

In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.
He has asked nothing in return except our friendship and understanding.
Remember him always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

And now we even have women over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to war when our nation calls us to do so.

As you go to bed tonight, remember this shot. . .

A short lull, a little shade and a picture of loved ones in their helmets.

Rabbi sang a song called "The Wall", which he wrote. I couldn't find his song but found the one below on myspace and thought if you were interested you could listen to it. It was written by a Vet named Danny Barnes. "That Black Wall"

As we stood and listened to Rabbi sing his song it began to rain. I thought to myself once, this is going to be a cold trip home but then I know...A Soldier fighting for our country has gone through far worse then riding home in the rain. The conclusion of the Thunder Run was the Bagpiper playing Amazing Grace. Yes, it brought tears to my eyes. It does everytime. I'm so glad that we attended this Tribute to our Troops. I really learned a lot today from Rabbi and Moose. We need to continue helping our Soldiers and Vets on an ongoing basis. We can never forget what they sacificed for us. Thank you to each and every one of them from the bottom of my heart!

Please keep our Men and Women serving all over the world in your thoughts and prayers. If you meet a Soldier or a Vet make sure you thank them! And never forget "Freedom is Not Free". God Bless America!

Check out the Iowa Thunder site . Next years ride is on May 23rd.


mq01 said...

thank you to all the vets and soldiers, always, from the bottom of my heart. i love days and events like this, so special and touching, and the people you meet are always fabulous. thanks for such a great post Stephanie. it must have been a fabulous time, rain and all... :)

Big Daddy said...

Thank you for remembering all those who served past and present.
My three active duty son's and daughter also thank you.

Dean "D-Day" said...

I knew this post would be a good one.

I take every chance I can to thank our vets. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of smiles, tears and looks of surprise that I get when I offer my handshake of thanks to them.

And yes, "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes sends me into tears every single time.

Learning to Golf said...

Great job on the post!!! Having had the opportunity to visit the Black Wall three weeks ago makes that song even more emotional. We all need to thank everyone we see in uniform no matter where we are at the time. Those men and women need to know they are supported for what they do for us.

Baron's Life said...

One of the best posts I've read in a long time...nicely done...!!!
Thanks for sharing...You look good in that pic.

GYMONR said...

Nice photos…great story…oh yea I love the new hair
Big Al

FLHX_Dave said...

Awesome, inspiring, somber and thought provoking. People don't like thinking about this. It makes them feel bad, guilty or angry.

Well, tough shit. You need to take a moment and think about this. You need to know someone else is out there making sure you still have the best shot at choice.

Great post. What a great cause. Yeah, it sorta brought my day to a certain calm and to somber thought...I would feel like an ass if it didn't. Thanks for the reminder. Every ride has this sacrifice in thought for a few miles.

If you're indifferent about this subject or don't care, then you have no appreciation for what's been sacrificed and can kiss my ass. I have no use for you or your opinion, because you obviously don't appreciate the right to an opinion...which makes it worthless in my book.

Speak your mind, but at least have the intelligence to know that some places in the world would rather shoot you in the face than hear your opinion. It was a gift that cost more than any other because the price was so high. I give thanks but it just never seems to be enough...I don't think it ever will. The only thing I can do is live my life as best as I can with recognition of the sacrifice.

ok, ok...I'll zip it. Great Post and good for you.

IHG said...

Thanks for all your comments about my post! I love the fact that so many of you feel the same way that I do about this topic! Some people just don't get it and frankly I want to bop them upside the head!

Joshua B said...

Hey there Stephanie, love your site. I have just started up a site all about pit bikes at I was wondering if you would be interested in exchanging links with me. My email address is

Pappy said...

Great post !! Thanks for your Support!

Mastercheif said...

Great post!!!! It is awesome to see that there are still people who remember the sacrafic made my our fellow Americans on our behalf. I'm going to head up to memorial hill today, and spend a few little bit paying my respects and appreciation for price soem paid ofr my freedom. You are a class act Iowa Harley Girl!

B.B. said...

Sorry I'm late Steph. Great post and great pics. Thank you so much for sharing this day with us, I'm so thankful that there are men and women who are willing to fight and die for people they will never know, and I'm so thankful for people like you who remind us all to never forget them.

Lady R (Di) said...

Great post again Steph!

Thank you for honoring our Veterans and Active Duty military with your coverage of this ride.

Amazing Grace always gets me too. But, it's still my favorite song to remember my Grandma by.

The 1/2 Boy, 1/2 Man Essay was awesome. Great tribute to our fighting men and women.

Thanks Steph... your awesome!

dan said...

Great post Steph, thanks for sharing it. dan

Ann said...

Great post, Steph. I got goosebumps while reading that speech. It must have been something to hear.

I used to love hearing Amazing Grace being played on the bagpipe, but since my father's funeral, it makes me weep openly now. I hope nobody ever forgets what our soldiers do for our freedoms.

Unknown said...

My dad was wearing his "I'm a Viet Nam Veteren hat a couple years ago when a stranger came up to him, shook his hand and said "Welcome Home Brother." Dad said it was the first time he'd heard that from anyone. It was a quiet day full of deviled screams and turned backs the day he got home back in '69.