Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

16th Annual Veterans Ride - Grandview, Missouri

Written by  January 1, 2014

Every year around Veterans Day, Tom Allen, a long-time Gail’s Harley-Davidson employee and a Vietnam vet, leads a ride to honor military veterans. This year’s ride was on Saturday, November 9, an absolutely beautiful Fall day. The 180 or so participating motorcycles were staged in the lot behind the dealership. Registration was free, and the first 100 riders received a ride pin.

The riders gathered just prior to the 12:30 p.m. beginning of the ride and were welcomed by Gail. Based on a show of hands, roughly two thirds were military veterans. Tom added his welcoming remarks and read a touching poem about a soldier’s welcome at Heaven’s pearly gates. Tom described the route to this year’s destination, the K.C. Live outdoor entertainment area in the Kansas City Power & Light District. Had we taken the most direct route from Gail’s Harley-Davidson to downtown Kansas City, the distance would have been about 19 miles. When Tom Allen leads a ride on a nice day, the shortest route is definitely out of the question. With Tom up front, proudly flying Old Glory on his Harley as did many of the riders, we headed north on Missouri 71, Blue Ridge Boulevard, and Blue Ridge Cutoff, then rode west on Truman Road to our destination. The route covered roughly 28 miles and took us through neighborhoods with trees looking brilliant in their Autumn colors and past several cemeteries that served as a reminder of veterans who had found their final resting place.

Parking was reserved on the east side of Walnut between 13th and 14th. When that space was full, the remaining bikes were parked on the sidewalk on the west side of the street. The attraction at K.C. Live was The Hero Show with sponsors including 41 Action News KSHB TV, Q104 F.M., 38 The Spot, and Sheet Metal Workers International Association.

On Grand Boulevard between K.C. Live and the Sprint Center several military vehicles, antique, and modern were on display. A fine collection of antique military Cushman scooters was featured. The Kansas City Royals, Chiefs Ambassadors, V.F.W. and other organizations had booths in the area. Several members of the Kansas City Bettys dressed as U.S.O. girls from the 1940’s added a nostalgic touch to the event. There was live music throughout the day and into the evening hours. Featured performers were Clay Walker and Travis Martin. It was a great place to gather and to celebrate the freedom we have due to the sacrifices made by our vets through the years.

Special thanks go to Tom Allen and to Gail’s Harley-Davidson for their efforts in planning and sponsoring the Veterans’ Memorial Rides for sixteen years and counting. During all of that time, there have been only two destinations that have been visited twice—Lexington, Missouri and Fort Scott Kansas. Other locations visited include the veterans’ home in Cameron, Missouri, the veterans’ memorial in Smithville, Missouri, the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, and many others.

Article and photos by Stripe

The Soldier at the Pearly Gates

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

'Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you ?
Have you always turned the other cheek ?
To My Church have you been true?'

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
'No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.

They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

'Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell.'

~ Author Unknown


Photojournalist/Account Representative - Kansas City, MO

Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at stripe@cycleconnections.com