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For many of the riders en route to Washington D.C. their annual visit to Montvale Elementary has become a favorite stop along the way as part of their annual Run for the Wall.
Last Thursday was no different.
The motorcycles roared down Patriot Road just after 12:30 p.m. for a two-hour respite of encouragement, nourishment and even healing.
Those riding in the annual trek—many of them veterans or family members of veterans—were cheered, fed and saluted for their service. It has become a life-changing event for both the riders and the school.
Some passed out wrist bands to the students who met them as they arrived, wrist bands given in honor of a loved one still missing in action from a prior conflict. Some got their meals and ate in the gym or cafeteria; some took their meals into classrooms and ate with the students.
This was the first year Dan Boss of Tualatin, Oregon, had participated in the Run for the Wall ride, which began a week earlier in California. A friend of his—a veteran of the Vietnam War—encouraged him to ride. “It’s great,” he said of the reception from the school. “It’s hard not to have tears in your face.”
Robert “Old School" Reavis is a longtime veteran of the ride—and of enjoying the stop at Montvale. The Sacramento, California, native has been a part of the ride since 2008. “It’s a healing process,” he said. “We ride for those who can’t to remember our fallen brothers.”
And he appreciates the reception Montvale Elementary offers to those riding. “Every year the kids do such a great job,” Reavis said. “They are so patriotic.”
He said Montvale students show they truly care about their history and their heritage. “And they’re proud of it. I’m just really blessed to be a part of the program and have them welcome us here,” he said.
“Happy” Jaci Mease, of Fallbrook, California, spent her time in a preschool room, talking with Kaylie Ostler-Baxter. She helped Kaylie color a picture and helped her try on a motorcycle helmet. “The little ones, they are our future,” Mease said.
She said the students need to remember the veterans and the freedoms they enjoy because of the sacrifices made on their behalf.
Students had the Run for the Wall participants sign autographs. They also signed their names to the Wall put up by the school of the names of all the riders who have passed through the school since it started hosting the stop.
The school put on a program for the riders in the gymnasium. The program included a presentation of the United States Flag, along with the military and POW flags. Students sang songs and presented a slide show from previous visits by the Run for the Wall participants.
Mary Sensabaugh, a senior at Liberty High School, played “America the Beautiful” on her flute. Sensabaugh, a former Montvale Elementary student, was given a scholarship by the Run for the Wall Foundation, the first year that has been done for the schools the group stops at. Former Montvale students could apply for the scholarship. They had to write an essay about their Run for the Wall experience.
Run for the Wall is an effort to promote healing among all veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support military personnel all over the world. They strive to “maintain a safe, supportive and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect and heal on their journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. in the hope that they can return home to a new beginning.”
The Ride began May 14 in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and ended May 23.