MT. VERNON — Giving Vietnam veterans the welcome home they never received and providing a way to start their healing process is one of the goals of the Run for the Wall.
Mt. Vernon served as one of the pit stops for the 10-day journey on Tuesday that began a week ago in California and will end this weekend in the nation’s capitol. About 400 cyclists fueled up at the Circle K store on 44th Street and were served lunch at Waterkotte’s Harley-Davidson.
“This is day number seven since we left Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.,” said Ken “Catfish” Ward, the central route coordinator. “The ride has been absolutely perfect. We’ve had great weather, great support along the way from cities like Mt. Vernon with the fuel station and the Harley shop and all the volunteers that feed us and everything. We get that kind of support all across the country.”
Ward began his experience as a Run for the Wall participant seven years ago.
“I told my wife when I
found it on the Internet I wanted to do it one time just to experience it for myself and as a tribute to the guys that came back from Vietnam, to thank them, and to remember the ones that didn’t come home. Once you do it one time and meet all the good people and see some of the healing these guys get that they need after coming back from Vietnam it gets in your blood, it’s hard to give up,” Ward said.
Phil DuBois is a Vietnam veteran who is making the cross-country trek for the eighth time.
“The first four years I did it partially in New Mexico, my home state. The last four years I’ve done it all the way from L.A. to D.C.,” said DuBois. “The reason I do it is to honor the men who have died, our veterans who have been killed in action, those missing in action and for the families.”