SOUTH COAST — At the edge of the Bandon Shopping Center parking lot, a quiet group of veterans gathered to honor fallen veterans.
Even though many Memorial Day events were canceled, the Oregon South Coast Patriot Guard Riders dedicated their Sunday ride to those who never made it home.
Ride Co-Captain Bob Kramer said the ride was in lieu of the annual Run for the Wall, a journey to Washington D.C., which is normally followed by the Rolling Thunder event.
“But since that was canceled, now we’re doing Rolling to Remember,” Kramer said. “It’s to honor all the veterans that died in battle, died serving their country.”
The seven Patriot Guard Riders who participated in Rolling to Remember over the weekend met at 10 a.m. in Bandon to then ride to Gold Beach and back. The first 22 miles were dedicated to the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day and “to those guys who are having a problem dealing with civilian life again,” Kramer said.
The group was headed to Gold Beach’s Veteran’s Memorial where they planned on saying a prayer.
But the overall ride was “to honor the veterans who gave everything,” he said.
This is the first event the South Coast Patriot Guard Riders have done since the pandemic shut the state down. Normally the group only participates in events or military funerals after a formal request is made, but Kramer said a limit has been put on how many people are allowed at any gathering — including funerals.
Kramer, a Navy veteran who served from 1970 to 1974, hopes people will use Memorial Day to think about “the realities of what these guys go through in battle. They gave everything.”
Member Krystal Hopper rode in a truck that escorted the riders on their weekend salute.
“(The riders) will have their flags out (representing) different branches of the military and the Prisoner of War flag, just like if we were to do an event or Memorial Day service,” she said.
Hopper added that she is excited for the group to do something after having been dormant for the past couple of months due to the pandemic. Of course, she said the group would easily be able to social distance since it is a ride and the group will be on motorcycles.
To the public, she echoed Kramer, saying, “I think it’s important to take a moment to think about what this weekend is about. It’s not a day to get off work or school. It’s not all about the regular traditional events, but time to stop and think about those who gave their lives to protect us.”