| Crosshair’s Journal
3rd Day (5-16-08)
Packed up the bikes, Mustang and I left the hotel and headed for the pre- ride meeting. Meeting concluded, we’re on the I-40, 106 miles to refueling at the Route 66 Casino. Free fuel is provided by Thunderbird Harley-Davidson of Albuquerque. We are back on the road. At 112 miles we exit I-40 toward the City of Espanola. As we ride into town we are met by children and adults smiling, waving signs and American flags welcoming us. We have lunch (sponsored by Sange De Cristo HOG Chapter & Santa Fe Harley-Davison) then walk over to the Espanola Veterans Wall & Park.
We were welcomed by the leaders of the city and leaders of local veteran groups. We were informed that their veteran wall contains the names of 2700 Espanola residents that had answered the call from our country to serve in every war that the United States has fought in. More names are being added yearly. Speakers spoke about how important it is for the children of Espanola and this country to be taught that freedom is not free. The freedoms they enjoy today where paid for by the lives and sacrifices of others.
As adults and children alike cheer us on, we leave Espanola and refuel at the OhKay Casino. Free gas sponsored by, Espanola Veterans Memorial and Friends.
68 miles to the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial State Park, Angel Fire, New Mexico. We break into a parade speed staggered formation and proceeded through Flechado Pass. This is a very narrow two lane curving road with drop off on both sides. We lose one rider to an accident. I learned later that the rider had suffered miner injuries, and his bike was out of commission.
The Memorial is in sight with one of the helicopters that had accompanied us this far sitting in an adjacent field.
Walking around the memorial is the high light of this ride. The sound of Viet Nam Era helicopters in the background, the bag piper playing, the facial expressions of the veterans reenacting memories long forgotten by choice is overwhelming by many who break down crying. No one is consoled. It’s a time when each man has to reconcile their demons.
I light a candle in the chapel for those I shared their last minutes with and the 58000+ names on the wall. I think of the old man in Holbrook, and pray for the relief of his pain.
The dead will take care of themselves.