“As the inhabitants of the North Township repair to this park in the years to come, as they are reinvigorated in body and mind by its use, as they are moved by the memory of the heroic deeds of those to whom it is dedicated, may they become the partakers and promotes of a more noble, more exalted, more inspired American life.”
~ President Calvin Coolidge, dedicating Wicker Memorial Park to World War veterans, June 14, 1927
This morning, as many of us go about our day, there will be a familiar rumble along Ridge Road and Columbia 45th and Calumet avenues. The 13th Annual Victory for Veterans Memorial Ride will leave Wicker Memorial Park at 11:30 a.m. and wind 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. From there the riders will head west along Ridge Road through Griffith and Highland.
As in years past, I will find my way onto the curb by the Highland Town Hall waiting anxiously to wave to the seemingly endless line of big motorcycles barreling down the road. It is quite a sight and something that I suppose the riders and the onlookers anticipate every year. We have a fistful of little U.S. flags that we wave every year.
Paul Day from the American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association is once again leading the effort on behalf of the many riders. “We couldn’t pull this off without the support of the (North) Township Trustee’s Office,” Day said. “Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger. Last year, in the rain, we had about 2,000 riders come out.”
Once again, the AVMRA expects a great turnout and support for the continued expansion of the park memorial on the northwest corner of Ridge Road and Indianapolis Boulevard. Expanding on the flame that has graced that corner for decades, this program has made it possible to add plaques, walkways and other enhancements to a growing testament to those who served their country when called to duty.
The ride began as a fundraiser in response to the planned removal of the Highway of Flags Memorial at Ridge Road and Indianapolis Boulevard as Indianapolis Boulevard was expanded. The AVMRA stepped in to raise money to have the memorial moved to Wicker Park. When the removal of the flags was averted, the riders decided to shift their energies and enthusiasm into expanding the eternal flame.
Today, Day and his fellow riders can drive by any given day and point to the work they have done. The North Township Trustee’s Office has worked with the group for the last 13 years and does most of the planning and coordination for the ride and picnic. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Entry fee is $20 for an individual and $30 for a couple. If interested, show up at the main gate and follow the signs.
The American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association 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.