The rain did little to deter patriotic riders on a mission to raise money for veterans by proudly displaying an American flag on a 110-day tour across the nation’s 48 contiguous states.
On Saturday, the flag arrived with a pack of motorcycles at Hells Canyon Harley-Davidson in Lewiston. About 10 riders accompanied the flag from the Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson dealership in Spokane.
Chris Attrill, 47, of Spokane, passed the flag off to Charlie Nation, 71, of Orofino, who was placed in charge of its safe delivery to the next stop, in Kennewick.
“To accept this flag is to accept great responsibility,” Attrill said. “You will act on behalf of your fellow Americans and represent all that is embodied in the colors of our flag. You represent our collective past, present and future. You will carry this flag in honor of our nation’s veterans.”
Nation, a retired Navy pilot who served for 23 years, proudly took on the role.
“It is my honor to carry this flag and I will do so to make sure it gets to Kennewick, and beyond, if I have to,” he said.
This is Nation’s third time participating in the Patriot Tour. The event is a major fundraiser for veterans’ causes.
“We want to make sure we put in our fair share of support and accomplish missions like this,” he said.
The ninth annual Patriot Tour is making its way through Idaho on its way back to the starting point of the ride in Beaver Dam, Wis. The tour began on May 19 and is set to conclude Sept. 8.
The Nation of Patriots, a nonprofit organization, puts on the ride each year to raise money for veterans. Last year, just less than $250,000 was raised. The funds were given to 67 families of disabled veterans in 18 states.
This year, the goal has been increased to $300,000.
“It is important for people to understand that every dollar they contribute to this effort is put directly into the hands of disabled vets and their families,” said Bill Sherer, the founder of the organization, in a news release. “The Nation of Patriots is an entirely volunteer-run organization, so 100 percent of the money raised benefits those for whom it is intended.”
The 14,500-mile journey will continue today around 11 a.m.
Randy McLauchlan, general manager of Hells Canyon Harley-Davidson, will also accompany the flag to Kennewick. He invited the community to take part in the next leg of the trip or to see off the riders, who will take off from the dealership.
McLauchlan served in the U.S. Navy from 1986 to 1992. The event holds a double meaning for him: it supports the nation’s veterans, while also celebrating the Harley-Davidson culture.
“It’s creating awareness for the POWs, MIAs and it’s something we can do to give our vets some respect and credibility,” he said. “It shows appreciation for the effort of what they did to keep this flag free and it’s just fun to be a part of something like this.”
Attrill made the trip down from Spokane with his 13-year-old son, Elliott. He’s served in the armed forces for 27 years, currently as an active-duty first sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.
“I just think it’s important that people continue to see the flag flying and continue to see that symbol is important to a lot of people,” Attrill said.
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