Nation of Patriots tour rumbles through Joplin

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A group of dedicated motorcycle riders gathered Saturday at Joplin’s Hideout Harley-Davidson, where an American flag was dropped off by the Mulvane American Legion Post 136 from the Wichita, Kansas, area in the latest stop on the Nation of Patriots tour.

Formed in 2008, the nonprofit Nation of Patriots, which promotes awareness of wounded veterans and their families, the following year launched its first tour across the United States as a national effort to honor veterans. All donations to the event go directly to veterans, who are mainly selected through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital network.

The tour kicks off annually on Memorial Day weekend, and one American flag travels with riders to 48 states over the course of 110 days, traveling approximately 14,500 miles. According to the organization’s website, the tour has raised $ 452,600 and has helped 245 veterans.

Scott Cox, a Navy veteran with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association 4-9 in Joplin, accepted the flag from Wichita’s Post 136 and folded it in a special ceremony on Saturday. Cox said it was a blessing and a pleasure to have the opportunity to fold the flag.

“I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do,” Cox said. “For the veterans out there, I want to say, ‘Thank you, welcome home, we’re brothers and sisters and we’ll always be that.’ For the support members of the family, a big thank you goes out to you guys because when we were gone, you were home.”

This will be the only stop the flag makes in the state of Missouri. It will travel to Fort Smith, Arkansas, this morning. The flag will be stored safely during the ride and will be unfolded and flown on the back of a bike when it’s near Fort Smith. So far on this tour, the flag is halfway through its journey, with its last stop scheduled in Wisconsin.

Joplin Mayor Michael Seibert was present during the ceremony and gave a speech thanking current and past military personnel. Despite the 100-degree temperature, hot weather did not break the riders’ spirit or keep those present from getting goosebumps during the flag-folding ceremony.

“The heat index is almost 110 (degrees) outside,” Seibert said. “I didn’t realize it was possible to get chills when the heat index was 110. That was amazing. To the riders who came in from Wichita, you’ve arrived in a very patriotic community. We are proud of our veterans, and we are proud of our active service military. We support our families.

“We couldn’t think of a better place for you all to be here today, so we are very grateful,” he added. “We’re glad you arrived safely. We’re asking for blessings on your return trip. For those who are going to Arkansas, we ask that you take our honor and glory from this community and spread it to the next.”

Marine Corps veteran Chuck Vrana, of the Paul Stewart Irwin Post 136 out of Mulvane, was one of the members who rode to Joplin to deliver the flag from Kansas. Vrana said Post 136 is the birthplace of the Patriot Guard Riders, a nonprofit organization whose members attend the funerals of military personnel, veterans and first responders.

“(The weather) for us here, of course it has been hot, but regardless of the inclement weather that anybody endures carrying this flag, it gets carried,” Vrana said. “It brings unity for all of the veterans, and it raises awareness for all of the veterans groups.”

Ken Jarrett, of the local Hideout chapter, will carry the folded flag on his Harley-Davidson Street Glide to Fort Smith. He has been riding motorcycles for a majority of his life and had served as a security police K-9 officer in the Air Force for four years.

“It think it’s a big honor,” Jarrett said. “I’m really looking forward to the patriotism from everybody. It’s hard to express the feeling of riding with other bikers.”

From Fort Smith, the flag will travel to Little Rock and then Louisiana.

More information

To donate to the Nation of Patriots tour, visit nationofpatriots.com.

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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