100-mile ride pays tribute to area veterans

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By AMY McCUALSKY Wednesday June 29, 2016 1:09 PM
What started a year ago as a conversation about riding motorcycles grew into an event that combined enthusiasm for that hobby with honoring veterans.

D. Charone Monday, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion-Office of Public Affairs in Columbus, helped organize the Veterans Memorial Motorcycle Ride on June 24.

The ride featured stops at four central Ohio cemeteries where veterans are buried.

Participants hope to make the ride a yearly event.

“Last year, one of my co-workers and I were talking and discovered we both rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and I said a bunch of us ladies should get together on a Saturday and ride,” Monday said.

“It never happened, so last year, we decided to make it a ride not just for ladies, but for everyone, focusing on veterans.

“We decided to make it so that any veteran would be able to do the ride, and something where we could honor all veterans. People who like to ride motorcycles are like a brotherhood, and so are veterans.”

That brotherhood includes a sisterhood as well, according to Monday.

“Now when that phrase (brotherhood) is used, in reference to those riding motorcycles or about veterans, it has come to include women as well,” she said.

The motorcycle riders started at Forest Lawn Cemetery on East Broad Street in Columbus, then rode to Maple Grove Cemetery in Granville and Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newark, ending at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery on East Main Street east of Reynoldsburg.

Military officers conducted special ceremonies and spoke at each stop on the 100-mile ride. Those ceremonies at cemeteries where veterans are buried were important to all the riders, said Monday, herself a veteran.

“There are so many faceless veterans — people don’t realize the sacrifices they made for our freedoms. They gave all they had for us and we think they should be honored more than just on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.”

When Monday joined the U.S. Army in 1973, she had to be assigned to the Women’s Army Corps.

“Then three years later, they did away with that, and we all just became part of the Army,” she said.

In addition to a stint in Europe, Monday spent 11 years stationed in Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Colorado and Arizona, where she instructed classes in television production, she said.

“It was nice for me to go into the service, learn skills and see the rest of the world.”

Monday worked on planning the ride with local military officials, including U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clydellia Prichard-Allen, who spoke at Holy Cross Cemetery.

“The significance of traveling to different cemeteries is to recognize veterans who served in different war campaigns … from soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington to those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Prichard-Allen said.

“Personally, this ride is especially significant for me, as I lost six comrades while deployed to Afghanistan from 2011-2012,” she said. “Their sacrifices and friendships will remain with me forever.”

The ride was arranged to honor all veterans who sacrificed their lives, especially those who were in Vietnam, who did not return to a hero’s welcome, Prichard-Allen said.

“Over the years and the many conflicts that we have fought in, the demographics have changed to include more women, minorities and those of all ethnic backgrounds,” she said.

“Today, Americans thank soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines whenever they see them in uniform, but those of the Vietnam era came back to an ungrateful nation.”

Prichard-Allen entered military service in 1989 as an enlisted member of the Army Reserve and went into active service in 1992. Her enlisted assignments included a voluntary deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield.

The master of ceremonies at the Forest Lawn Cemetery ceremony was Capt. Morgan Sullivan, administrative officer for the U.S. Army Columbus Recruiting Battalion. Others who participated in events at various cemeteries during the ride were Lt. Col. Stephanie Steve and Lt. Col Anita Trepanier of the U.S. Army’s Columbus Recruiting Battalion.

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