GOSHEN — Downtown Goshen took on the feel of a massive motorcycle rally Sunday afternoon as hundreds of bikers lined Fifth Street prior to a short memorial service honoring Elkhart County fallen heroes at the Goshen Police Department.
The memorial service, which took place at around 4 p.m. Sunday, was part of the 19th annual Riding to Remember Fallen Police, Firefighter and Veteran charity ride, a 72-mile police-escorted motorcycle ride through Elkhart County honoring those who serve our country and those service members who have been lost along the way.
Among the local dignitaries asked to share a few words during Sunday’s service was Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman.
“I can’t tell you what an honor it is to be able to stand up here today and be able to say thank you to all the men and women, past and present, of our armed forces, and our first responders,” Stutsman said to the assembled crowd. “We are so appreciative of everything you do to make our lives better and safer. And I just really would like to thank everybody else, too, who has come out today who are not in the armed forced that are showing the same respect and thanks by being part of this ride. We really appreciate it, and I know that our police and fire and armed forces appreciate it, too.”
Also sharing a few words Sunday was Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese, who noted that with Monday marking the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it is up to people such as those participating in Sunday’s event to help impart the importance of that tragic event to the younger generations.
“When we think about Sept. 11, we think about the police and the firefighters that were going in those buildings while people were coming out. And every day since, our United States military, they have defended us,” Neese said. “All of you are soldiers in your own right, because you are here. And as I said, it means a lot. And over the course of 16 years, a lot of us here, we saw this terrorism act unfold. But there are a lot of students today who just read about this. They weren’t even born. So it’s up to us to let them know the significance of that day, and that we never see anything quite like it again.”
Helping to round out Sunday’s service was Jackie Walorski, U.S. representative for Indiana’s 2nd congressional district
“Many of you have served, many of you are first responders and our hearts are always thankful,” Walorski said of the gathered crowd. “So I just want to honor you once again this year. Thank you for being a fellow American, and thank you for caring so much for our country.”
According to ride organizers, Riding to Remember is currently Elkhart County’s largest and longest-running motorcycle ride honoring local heroes. This year’s event was reportedly a record-breaker with more than 1,100 bikers participating.
Starting off in Elkhart, the annual ride winds its way through Wakarusa, Nappanee, Goshen, Middlebury and Bristol before finally returning to Elkhart, where the event concludes with food, beverages and live music from 5 until 8 p.m. at Hoosier Harley Davidson, 720 W. Bristol St.
The event in the past has benefited Elkhart County Veteran, Elderly and Children’s charities. This year, Riding to Remember will benefit the Elkhart Disabled Veterans “Vans for Vets” program in an effort to replace aging vans used to transport veterans to their doctor and hospital appointments.
Organizers for this year’s event included the city of Elkhart, Hoosier Harley Davidson, North End Cycle, Axemen NCI Firefighter Motorcycle Club and Blue Knights Indiana VIII Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.
John Kline can be reached at [email protected] or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN