Patriots and Parades
by Bill Hufnagle
aka Biker Billy
July 4, 2007, will mark the 230th year of celebrating our freedom, even though that freedom was not actually wrested from the British until almost seven-and-a-quarter years later, on September 3, 1783. It seems our tradition of celebrating our freedom started while we were still fighting for it, as it should have been, since our cause is just, and best expressed in these great words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Beautiful words that ring strong and true in my heart and the hearts of freedom-loving bikers and citizens across this nation and the world.
Defending the meaning of those words is, of course, the work of patriots. This mid-summer marks a celebration of 231 years of a continuing struggle of, to quote Lincoln at Gettysburg, “testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure…” Yes, it is a test that continues to this day, and it will continue forever, stopping only if it is lost. So while we struggle and are tested, we embrace the tradition of our forefathers and celebrate our independence. It is, to quote Lincoln again, “altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” We will share fireworks, picnics, and parades to remember the patriots of 1776 who, by their declaration, commitment, and sacrifice, gave future generations the gift of freedom.
But freedom is never free. The force of arms and the cost of life and limb purchased it over two centuries ago, and it has been renewed and defended ever since, spreading from the original colonies to this vast Union and taking root in many other countries around the world. But in each and every instance, it was never acquired or maintained for free. It has and always will be paid for by patriots, given as a gift to their fellow countrymen.
But the parades and picnics of July 4 are not what brings me to this subject; rather, it is a single picnic and parade that took place on the weekend that marks the beginning of summer—Memorial Day.
On this past Memorial Day weekend, I had the honor to volunteer to help the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) host a picnic for seriously wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in Washington, D.C. We convened at a hotel on the WRAMC campus, where seriously wounded warriors and their families stay during treatment and rehabilitation. Outback Steak House donated and served around four hundred steak dinners with all the fixings, I performed my show, and there were many care packages delivered—including toys for the children of the troops.
The following day I was honored to ride near the front of Rolling Thunder XX with the APWU riders, VIPs, and the Washington, D.C., Chapter of Rolling Thunder on a bike loaned to me by Old Glory Harley-Davidson. It was an awesome parade of almost uncountable numbers of motorcycle riders and spectators. Rolling Thunder’s mission is to publicize the POW-MIA issues, correct the past, and protect future veterans from being left being behind and forgotten.
If you know me or have attended my shows, you’ll know I am a big supporter of our troops. I firmly believe that, regardless of political views, supporting the troops is the sacred duty of all people who enjoy the freedom that the troops defend. We have a duty to thank and honor all the veterans who have paid the price of freedom.
I must say that I was concerned about my ability to witness the severity of the visible and invisible wounds these brave warriors have suffered. My father died when I was six from complications of WWII wounds, decades after receiving them; I feel a strong connection to wounded veterans. After spending several hours with these wounded warriors, I knew my fears had been misplaced. These men and women are some of the most inspiring and uplifting people I have ever met. They have paid a terrible price so that this nation would long endure; yet they are bright and optimistic and working hard on their personal roads to recovery.
So, enjoy the parades, picnics, and fireworks of this Fourth of July and keep those modern-day patriots in your heart. But, more than that, remember the mission of Rolling Thunder and the cause of the POW-MIAs. Please find it in your heart to at least say THANK YOU to our troops when they return from this war. Lastly, please find a way to donate or to volunteer to help our wounded warriors recover and rejoin us in sharing the benefits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Linda Leffel’s Hooray for the Red, White & Blue (Dip & Chips)
This recipe is from Linda Leffel of San Diego, CA. “Linda is President of the San Diego Chapter of Women In The Wind, a group that strives to educate its members in motorcycle safety and maintenance, unite women motorcyclists with friends of common interests, and promote a positive image to the public of women on motorcycles. Linda told me this recipe is “hot, sweet, spicy, patriotic, and great fun at a party, just like me and my Harley!”
1 package Philadelphia Cream Cheese (the “White”)
1/2 bottle Bronco Bob’s Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce or equivalent (the “Red”)
1 bag Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (the “Blue”)
Unwrap Cream Cheese and put on plate to soften at room temperature 1/2 hour before the party. Pour Raspberry Chipotle Sauce all over cream cheese.
Surround with blue chips, and stick a few into the mix to stand like little flags.
Makes 20 to 30 servings
Column copyright Bill Hufnagle 2007. Recipe reprinted with permission from “BIKER BILLY’S HOG WILD ON A HARLEY COOKBOOK”, published by Harvard Common Press, Boston copyright Bill Hufnagle 2003.