JOPLIN, MISSOURI –
A cross country motorcycle tour is working to honor America’s service members by carrying an American flag through every state — including Missouri.
Steve Lea is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy from 1969 until 1977.
He’s just one of many veterans, honored to carry the flag in this years patriot ride.
Steve Lea, Joplin Harley Owners Group:"As a veteran myself, and always giving to my community, I am very honored. This is an honor I do not take lightly."
The patriot ride is a 14-thousand mile, one- hundred day motorcycle tour that works to raise money for disabled veterans.
To do that, it takes a single American flag through all 48 continental United States.
Today it made it’s only stop in Missouri at Hideout Harley Davidson in Joplin.
Steve Lippert, General Manager – Hideout Harley:"Our freedom is because of those that have fought for it since the beginning of this country. And without those soldiers, we wouldn’t be where we are today and have the freedoms that we do have today, so it’s a celebration of that."
The flag is passed from Kansas riders, to the Joplin Harley owners group.. and the new flag bearer Steve Lea..
Lea will take the flag on the next leg of its journey to Fort Smith, Arkansas.
A 21 gun salute to honor those fallen soldiers.. and the pledge of allegiance.. all marked Joplin’s sixth year as a participant.
Lea:"Our country’s awesome. We have a lot of issues going on with it, but our flag is our flag, and it needs all the respect that everyone can give it."
Several veterans think it’s important to do this, especially given the current controversies surrounding the flag throughout the country.
Robert McCoy:"I think this needs to be passed on because with football games and our sports, so many of them the athlete’s aren’t standing for the flag. We were able to get up this morning and do what we wanted to do, and those things aren’t free, and so many of us take that for granted."
But for Lea.. all he can think about is the honor he feels being a part of something like this.
Lea:"It is such a great honor to be able to be a part of the transfer of the flag. The respect that we all can give the flag is just great."
Last years tour rose almost two-hundred-fifty-thousand dollars for the families of disabled veterans.