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Raton honors the Run for the Wall

RATON — It was a cool bright morning as hundreds of motorcycles rumbled into Raton on their way east to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Once the Run for the Wall motorcycles were fueled the crowd gathered around a trailer where Ron Chavez, a purple heart recipient, welcomed the riders to Raton and spoke of the ridicule that many of the veterans who returned from Vietnam faced. He also talked briefly about the important role that so many women (approx 7,500) played in that conflict. He went on to say that someone said ”America is like a bank, you have to put something in it if you want to get something out, 58,148 names on the wall, they put something in our nation’s bank.” Today these riders are on their way to a wall, a wall that was built in 1986 and is now often referred to as the “healing wall.” The wall contains the names of those 58,148 men and women who sacrificed it all and he went on to say that one more came home this week as Master Sergeant James Holt was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetary. Holt had been missing in action for 48 years. “Dying for freedom isn’t the worst thing that can

happen but being forgotten is,” said Chavez. After presentations of appreciation the riders once again mounted their bikes and continued on the journey that will help many heal from the wounds they once received. Editor’s note: Each May an ever-increasing number of motorcyclists make the “Run for the Wall,” a cross-country journey from southern California to the “Wall,” the Vietnam war memorial in Washington, DC. The journey’s purpose is raise public awareness about those who may still be prisoners of war or missing in action in Southeast Asia. It also serves as a “healing pilgrimage for participants and a ‘welcome-home’ ritual many veterans feel they never received.” For more information about the “Run for the Wall”, you may want to read: Run For The Wall: Remembering Vietnam on a Motorcycle Pilgrimage, by Raymond J. Michalowski