Sharing information was the focus of Day 2 of the first-ever American Legion Riders Expo at Stout Field in Indianapolis. The Expo, the second part of this year’s American Legion Legacy Run Home, brought Legion Riders together for classroom training, and question-and-answer sessions with The American Legion Riders Ad-Hoc Committee.
During the session, which took place Aug. 25, both committee members and the audience shared their experiences and advice on relations with the post, promoting the program and presenting a positive image for the Riders.
“It reinforced what we in Iowa are trying to do, especially when it comes to perception,” said Legionnaire Mike Etzel, a member of ALR Chapter 298 in Marion, Iowa. “There are a lot of concerns about acceptance of the Riders from what we call ‘the old guard.’ So it’s important to know what to do to improve that image. How do we move above that biker image? We remain Legionnaires first, and we need to make sure the post understands that.”
Etzel has participated in three full Legacy Runs and two partial ones, so he’s seen firsthand the impact the Riders can make. “I think discussing the ability to become accepted by your post was a very valuable part of the (question-and-answer) session,” he said.
The Expo included basic and advanced skills training, as well as classroom sessions involving subjects such as intersection awareness, group riding, rider reception and alcohol awareness. Participants also took part in a charity ride to raise funds for the nearby Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center; the funds were presented during a ceremony at Stout Field on Aug. 25.
Expo attendees also got a slick performance from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Drill Team, which provided a 20-minute exhibition of synchronized riding. The Expo culminated with a Candlelight Celebration honoring Legacy Scholarship recipients and a night ride through Indianapolis.
“I got something out of the skills-honing sections,” said Roy Smith, a member of ALR Chapter 914 in Louisville, Ill. “It really helps. You know how to do these things, but it never hurts to refresh a bit.”
But as valuable as that was to Smith, he got as much out of interacting with his fellow Riders. “That’s 80 percent of what the experience here is,” he said. “You share experiences. You communicate. You learn from what each other is doing. Just sitting down and talking with other Riders from other parts of the country is so valuable.”
Department of Illinois Adjutant Terry Woodburn, chairman of the Riders Ad-Hoc Committee, said he was pleased with how the Expo went. “For doing this event for the first time ever, I think it went very well,” he said. “It gave the Riders something totally different to do, rather than just attending a meeting after the Legacy Run. And it was nice to be able to pull it off in the Legion’s home city.”