Ride of Pride salutes
veterans, POWs, MIAs
May 22, 2008 9:32 AM
Memorial Day travelers may notice something different when they hit the highway. Escorted by hundreds of motorcyclists from North Carolina to Washington DC, the Freightliner Ride of Pride will make its seventh annual trip to the United States Capitol to honor veterans, POWs, and MIAs.
The truck leading the way is a Freightliner Cascadia, fully customized with symbols of America and the Armed Forces. Designed by employees at the Cleveland NC truck manufacturing plant, the 2008 Ride of Pride is touring the state, making stops to pay tribute in several North Carolina communities, before making the Memorial Day weekend trip to join Rolling Thunder, a national group that honors veterans.
Ed Keeter, shift manager at the Cleveland truck manufacturing plant and a veteran of the Vietnam War, said the idea for the ride came in 2001—before the war in Iraq—when he and other employees were looking for a way to honor veterans as Memorial Day approached.
Employees at the Cleveland plant volunteer their time to design the artwork and coordinate the 400-mile ride. This year’s truck features an American flag, a bald eagle, the POW-MIA emblem, and symbols from each military division, all decaled over the orange cab owned by Schneider National Inc. of Green Bay WI. Schneider will add the vehicle to its nationwide fleet of more than 10,000 trucks.
The journey to Washington DC begins with a ceremony at the plant at 7:30 a.m. Friday, May 23, that includes guest speakers and a flyover by a Blackhawk helicopter from the North Carolina Army National Guard. While in Washington, volunteers will visit Washington Hospital Center to host a party for veterans and hand out gift bags filled with items donated by Daimler employees in North and South Carolina.
On Sunday, May 25, the group will join a procession through the capital with nearly a million motorcyclists participating in the Ride for Freedom, sponsored by Rolling Thunder, a national non-profit with 80 chapters dedicated to publicizing POW-MIA issues.
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