HIGHLAND | With a low rumble heard for miles, the 13th annual Victory for Veterans Memorial Ride left Wicker Memorial Park on Sunday morning and wound its way in a large loop from Highland into Munster, down to Dyer and Schererville, along U.S. 30 and north on Taft Street in Merrillville, then west along Ridge Road through Griffith and Highland.
Beginning in 1999 with 300 motorcyclists, the ride has grown to include more than 2,000 veterans and non-veterans riding to support fellow veterans. Along the route, residents gathered to wave small U.S. flags and wave to the riders, who headed back to Wicker Park for an all-day picnic that included vendors, live bands and a DJ, food and raffles.
The Victory for Veterans Memorial Ride began after the large cross was removed from the corner of Ridge Road and Indianapolis Boulevard, aiming to raise funds to build a new memorial for veterans.
Proceeds from the event first funded a new design for the memorial and a contest to create a new memorial at the southeast corner of the North Township park. Dedicated by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge on June 14, 1927 to the "dough boys" of World War I, Wicker Memorial Park has become one of the most utilized parks in the Calumet Region.
The memorial is now designed with an eternal flame.
American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association Chapter 1, Hammond, began in the late 1980's thanks to five veterans who got together, meeting in Illinois until they found a location in Hammond. The organization welcomes veterans and non-veterans (as associate members) helping veterans, soldiers, families of veterans, people of special needs and others.
AVMRA Chapter 1 meets at 7 p.m. the first Monday of every month at Hessville VFW Post 7881, just north of 169th Street on Kennedy Avenue in Hammond.