Nation of Patriots: A homecoming for the flag
Oconomowoc - Preparations are being finalized for the homecoming of the American flag that left Wisconsin on May 28 as part of the 2011 Patriot Tour, a 100-day, 48-state journey honoring America's armed forces personnel past, present, fallen and their families, organization officials said.
The flag has been transported city-to-city throughout the 48 states by members of Harley Owners Groups (HOG), American Legion members, Patriot Guard Riders and VFW members with Harley-Davidson dealerships, local military bases, VA hospitals, and capitol buildings as transfer points.
The Patriot Tour was first conceived and organized in 2009 by Bill Sherer and his organization, Nation of Patriots.
Riders from across the country will convene in Madison at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, for the flag's final journey from the State Capitol to Wisconsin Harley-Davidson in Oconomowoc. Closing ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m. at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson, 1280 Blue Ribbon Drive. The celebration will continue throughout the afternoon with live music, food and refreshments.
Having traveled some 14,000 miles, the flag will land in Madison on Sept. 1 and be flown over the Wisconsin State Capitol until 9 a.m. Sept. 3. A team of flag bearers from the Rock River HOG chapter will then carry it on foot the two blocks to the intersection of King and Doty streets where as many as 500 riders will be waiting to escort it to Wisconsin Harley-Davidson for the closing ceremonies, Sherer said.
More than 110,000 riders across the U.S., many of them veterans, answered the Nation of Patriots' call early this spring and volunteered to take part in this second annual Patriot Tour.
Sherer was the lone rider and flag bearer on the 2009 Patriot Tour, travelling through all 33 states east of the Mississippi on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle at his own expense, raising awareness and money for the families of wounded veterans. He ended the tour in Milwaukee and worked with the VA hospital there to direct the money he had raised to military families.
The idea for the Nation of Patriots 2010 tour came to Sherer while on the road: "I was all alone on my bike somewhere in New York state when I realized that my voice was not strong enough to reach coast to coast or all the way to our men and women overseas. I realized that it was the colors of our nation's flag that could unite our people under one banner and behind our Armed Forces. This is why I decided to undertake this effort. It is the symbolism of a unified effort that has resonated deeply with many proud Americans and we're watching this effort take hold of a national footprint. My vision includes a whole nation of patriots to stand with me in a unified and collective salute of appreciation to the U.S. Military.
"One flag, 100 days, 48 states 14,000 miles and more than 150,000 rider participants; a Nation of Patriots has fulfilled its mission and the flag is coming home," Sherer said. "But our work has only just begun."
Nation of Patriots is a nonprofit corporation founded in 2009 by Sherer. A complete map of the 2011 Patriot Tour and more information can be found at www.nationofpatriots.org.
6:30 a.m., riders meet at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson for the ride to Madison
7 a.m., depart for Madison
8 a.m., arrive and assemble in MG & E Parking lot, 133 Blair St., Madison
8:30 a.m., walk to the Capitol
9 a.m., final flag bearer receives the flag in short ceremony
9:30 a.m., walk back to parking lot;
10 a.m., riders depart under police escort to Wisconsin Harley-Davidson in Oconomowoc
11 a.m., arrive and assemble at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson for flag homecoming ceremony
11:30 a.m., flag homecoming ceremony
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