More than 5,000 riders – a record for this event – participated in the 12th annual Patriot Ride on July 8.
The main event was a 50-mile motorcycle ride that started and ended at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport, but it was more than a bike ride on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
Featured speakers at pre- and post-ride ceremonies included Vietnam veteran Barry Winslow, World War II veteran Norman Bixby and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.
Proceeds from the ride will be donated to the Minnesota Patriot Guard, Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and Tribute to the Troops.
Winslow hopes to raise awareness for those who were either too young or not born in the Vietnam era.
They “need to understand how divided the country was 45-50 years ago and how badly Vietnam veterans were treated and (by understanding that) make sure that current and future veterans are never treated like that when they return home after the sacrifices they made,” Winslow said.
Stanek said families of fallen officers and soldiers have been well-served when the Patriot Guard brings their bikes and U.S. flags to be in funeral processions.
“Thank you to you, our community partners,” Stanek said.
There are countless organizations that help veterans. Ann Rostratter, director of the Minnesota Veterans Home Adult Day Center, shared how its mission is to help aging veterans stay in their own homes as long as possible before they need a management-run senior home. One of their clients is 103 years old.
Rostratter attended a Patriot Ride for the first time last year and was impressed by the scale of it.
“It’s so well organized,” she said.
Sun Sailor reporter Kristen Miller contributed to this story.