"Patriot Riders" Relay Old Glory to Grand Island and Beyond

By: Steve Ross Email
By: Steve Ross Email

It was a late summer's Sunday morning surprise for veterans who came out to see what all the rumble was about.

The "Patriot Riders" came carrying the flag, and these "wild ones" weren't out to hassle the community, but to support it.

And, veterans say, that means a lot.

"I'm from the Vietnam Era, and we didn't come back to necessarily a warm welcome at that time, but nowadays, it seems like there's more support behind the veterans, which it always should be, the people that have fought for our country," commented veteran Mark Whitehead.

The motorcycle group is called "Nation of Patriots," and are more commonly known as the Patriot Riders. They're relaying Old Glory through the 48 contiguous states in honor of veterans like U.S. Army PFC. Jacob A. Gassen, killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

Marty Gordon was selected to carry the flag forward from Grand Island.

"This is just kind of my way of giving back because I did not serve. So this is my way of saying thank you. So on behalf of the chapter and the City of Grand Island, I just kind of got the role," rider Marty Gordon explained.

Scores of riders took time to drop a tough image and lower a kickstand for the ceremony.

At Grand Island's Veteran's Administration Hospital, the motorcycle riders shifted gears, enjoying root-beer floats and swapping stories with veterans.

"Some of these people that have some kind of disability, or old age is catching up with them, they don't get a lot of visitors a lot of the time. That's always pushed around this facility here, stop in a see some of these guys. They'd love to tell their stories and talk to people. They do get lonely," Mark Whitehead said.

Notice to motorists: You may see the group on the road to Norfolk on Monday.

"People watch out for us, and they see what we're doing and that. We've got our colors flying so they respect us," reflected rider Tom Gallentine.


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