Tonganoxie area groups support national veteran motorcycle ride on Interstate 70
Nearly 40 American flags were unfurled — including a 20-foot-by-30-foot version towering above the overpass — to greet motorcyclists Monday passing through the Heartland.
Tonganoxie American Legion Post 41 and its women’s auxiliary, the Tonganoxie Motorcycle Association, Christian Motorcycle Association and the Ozawkie American Legion Riders joined together for the annual event.
Motorcyclists headed east on Interstate 70 as part of the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom.
Also known as the Run for the Wall, veterans ride bikes in a multiple-day trek from Ontario, Calif., to Washington, D.C.
Riders can join in the group at various designated spots across the country, with varying routes outlined.
The annual journey, which is in its 29th year, culminates with a visit to the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. The ride’s purpose also is to increase awareness in Washington, D.C., about veterans’ issues.
Monday morning, several American Legion and Tonganoxie Motorcycle Association members met at the Tonganoxie Casey’s convenience store. From there, they rode to the overpass roughly 3 miles south of Tonganoxie at the Tonganoxie/Eudora interchange.
Riders with Rolling Thunder made their way to that point on I-70 after 10 a.m., complete with law enforcement escort. Folks along the bridge waved to the bikers and they responded in kind — as did many motorists traveling the highway in advance of the cyclists.
Many vehicles, including several semi-trucks, honked as they met the flag bearers for roughly an hour before the bikers rode through.
The Rev. Ron Swaim, minister at Tonganoxie’s Cornerstone Family Worship and a Tonganoxie Motorcycle Association member, said he’s been a part of the highway greeting annually since it started four years ago.
“Very, very patriotic event,” Swaim said.
The minister said he was encouraged to see so many people being “in support of America and the flag.”
American Legion Post 41 member Richard Cottam said participating in the event is a wonderful way to show support for veterans.
“It just gets bigger and bigger,” he said.
Nearly 80 people were on hand for the display.
Joining the veterans and other groups on the overpass bridge were Reno and Tonganoxie township fire departments.
Fairmount Township and Tonganoxie City firefighters hoisted the gigantic flag in the air with trucks from each department.
The American Legion donated the flag to the Tonganoxie Fire Department. The flag has been displayed at various local events and parades.