Legacy Run Day 5: End of ride brings 'mixed emotions'
Employees of Chicos cheer on the Legion Riders during Day 5 of the Legacy Run. (Photo by Tom Strattman)

Legacy Run Day 5: End of ride brings 'mixed emotions'

7:30 a.m. – The Run is assembled in a parking lot near The Mall of Georgia in Buford. Groups huddle together for the last of the morning meetings.

7:44 a.m. – Douglas Jackson, a Sons of The American Legion member from post 259 in Clinton, Md., is on his first Legacy Run. He became inspired to participate after riding in a few Rolling Thunders. Consider him hooked on the Run now. “If I had a blank check, I could do it for another week,” he says. “I found out that the first day is stressful because everyone is getting used to how everyone else rides. But now everyone has a higher confidence level. I’ve really enjoyed myself.” Jackson’s post donated $500 to the Legacy Fund; Douglas himself presented it to the national commander. “I gave that $500 check in honor of my father (an Army and Navy veteran),” Douglas says.

7:50 a.m. – Past Department of Virginia Commander Andy Robertson is getting ready to get ride for the final day of his seventh Legacy Run. “Having been on seven of these, I’ve now got some many old friends from all over the country,” he says. “You get to see them next year, and you look forward to that. And you miss them if they don’t get back to the Run.”

8:26 a.m. – in Winder, Ga., employees from the Chico’s distribution center stand outside holding American flags. As the Run goes by, the employees wave and cheer for the Riders. They’re doing it for two of their own: Robert Wilson and Rick Baugh, who work at the warehouse and are participating in the Run.

11:05 a.m. – The Run stops in Abbeville, S.C., for a gas stop and a chance to rest up in the Bi-Lo parking lot. Some of the Riders order from Pizza Hut. FYI: Abbeville, as you may or may not know, was where South Carolina became the first state to secede and Jefferson Davis officially acknowledged the dissolution of the Confederate government. It also is the home of The Rough House, which makes a mean Coney dog and has a boss miniature “Simon & Simon” pickup truck hanging behind its counter.

11:45 a.m. – I run into Chuck Francis, a Legion Rider from Post 2 in Abbeville who I met back in April while in South Carolina for a story on the state Legacy Run. “The idea that the Run is coming through Abbeville is pretty fantastic,” Chuck says. “I’m very proud of the work that the Riders do on the Legacy Run, collecting all that money. It’s a very important way to tell the children (of military personnel killed while serving), ‘You’re still a part of our family.’”

12:20 p.m. – The Run pulls through Abbeville’s town square, where more than dozen people are standing there, waving to the Riders as they pass. Abbeville is pretty cool.

1:29 p.m. – Driving on I-85 North, I notice that the temperature has risen to 100 degrees. I tell Derek Tow and Tom Strattman, the Run videographer and photographer. Both have fallen asleep.

2:35 p.m. – As we enter Kings Mountain, N.C., we see a fire truck hoisting a large American flag on the main drag, a fitting welcome to the Legacy Run.

2:37 p.m. – We pull into the parking lot of Post 155. The temperature is 92 degrees. The humidity feels higher.

2:45 p.m. – Inside Post 155, Commander Curtis Thrift and the rest of the post’s Legion family members are busy getting ready for the Run to arrive. “It’s very exciting,” Thrift says. “It’s very special to everyone here to have the Run end here”

2:50 p.m. – The Run – 275 motorcycles and 56 passengers – pulls into Post 155. Members of the advance team stand at attention, saluting the Riders as they pull into the parking lot. Inside, a pulled pork meal awaits them.

3:05 p.m. – Like hundreds of other parched Run participants, National Commander Dan Dellinger stands in the water line inside Post 155. He rode every leg of the Run and came away impressed with those around him. “It was a great experience to be with these people,” he says. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be with them doing the great job that they do.”

3:27 p.m. – Virginia’s Bob Sussan has just finished his first Run as chief road captain. He quickly deflects praise for another successful ride. “On Monday, I never thought the rain would stop,” he says. “You need to thank your ride captains for the job that they did.”

3:29 p.m. – Kings Mountain Mayor Rick Murphrey is at Post 155 to greet the Run. He says that Kings Mountain is a patriotic town and proclaims today “American Legion Riders Day” in Kings Mountain. “When duty called, you answered that call,” he says. “We thank you so much for your service.”

3:37 p.m. – Dellinger tells those who just finished the Legacy Run, “You are the face of The American Legion.”

3:41 p.m. – Les and LaRee Kubes have finished their eighth Legacy Run. Les says meeting a Gold Star mother this year and the children of a servicemember killed in action a few years ago are special. “Moments like that keep me doing this,” he says. For LaRee, riding up to Post 155 can be tough. “There’s joy that we made it through another Run,” she says. “But there’s sadness because you’re now going to be parting ways with friends you’ve just met and friends who you’ve rode with every year.”

4:03 p.m. – The donations for the day are totaled up: more than $42,000, including $7,900 from ALR Chapter 2 in Delaware and $5,000 from ALR Chapter 28, also in Delaware. That brings the total raised heading into the national convention to $420,000. Wow.

4:12 p.m. – Department of North Carolina’s POW-MIA Chairman Monica Cash of Post 116 in Fuquay Varina presents POW-MIA bracelets to the brother and sister Staff Sgt. Bunyan Price Jr., who went missing in action during the Vietnam War in 1970. More than a few eyes are no longer dry.

4:17 p.m. – In a rather fitting end to another phenomenal Run, Bob Maurer of Post 210 in Celina, Ohio, pays $360 (to be donated to the Legacy Fund) for a Legacy Run street sign that is auctioned off.