SIDNEY – Motorcyclists from throughout the western Ohio area are invited to participate in escorting the AVTT-TWF Traveling Wall into Sidney on Sept 2.
The AVTT-TWF Traveling Wall is a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Its appearance in Sidney is hosted by the Shelby County Historical Society as part of the society’s “Week of Valor” event. The AVTT-TWF Traveling Wall will be open to the public in Custenborder Park from Sept. 3-6.
Traditionally, the traveling wall is led into a city by an escort of bikers. When the historical society sponsored an exhibit of the wall in 2010, more than 2,500 motorcyclists preceded the truck in which the wall travels as it made its way from Wapakoneta to Sidney.
“I pray we have as many as we had last time and that we have a safe, proper tribute,” said organizer Mark Harrod, of Sidney. All bikers are welcome. There is no participation fee and no advance registration is necessary.
“You don’t have to be a veteran to ride.” Harrod said. “The escort will meet the wall at the Wapakoneta VFW. Bikers should there (712 N. Dixie Hwy.) at 5:30 p.m. at the latest and should plan to enter Wapakoneta from the north (or east or west), but not from the south on (highway) 25A. Departure will be at 6:30 p.m. We’ll escort the wall down (highway) 25A to State Route 47 in Sidney, to Custenborder Field. That’s about 22 miles.”
The committee will distribute flyers to residents and businesses along the route to alert them to the parade of motorcycles.
“We hope people will be outside to honor the people whose names are on that wall,” Harrod said. “They show their patriotism and their support for veterans. It may be the most photographed event in the history of Shelby County because everyone has a cell phone and they’re taking pictures (as the escort and truck go by).”
Because the escort stops only for emergency vehicles, the flyers also will inform people that they won’t be able to get out of their driveways for about n hour hour as the parade passes their buildings.
“If someone has to be at work at 7:30 and tries to get out at 7, just as we get there, they’re going to be late for work,” Harrod noted.
Police and sheriff departments will accompany the escort. Some fire departments along the route will cross ladders over the street and hang a flag from them, under which the bikers will pass.
The route will take the parade of motorcycles and the truck with the wall from Wapakoneta through Botkins, Anna, and Sidney, as well as through unincorporated areas of Auglaize and Shelby counties. The escort ends as the traveling wall enters Custenborder Park, where it will be exhibited through Sept. 6.
“There will be a short ceremony at the park as the wall comes in,” said Tilda Phlipot, director of the historical society. “And there will be lots of activities throughout the event.”
Speakers, a band concert, a 5K run/walk, a cruise-in, a public breakfast, an art exhibit and other activities have been planned.
In addition, the historical society is erecting a Field of Valor behind the wall. Up to 1,000 flags will fly on separate, eight-foot-tall flagpoles honoring and memorializing veterans of any service branch at any time in U.S. history, first responders, and home-front heroes. Flags may be purchased by calling the historical society at 937-498-1653 and online at shelbycountyhistory.org.
For information about the escort or the Week of Valor, which marks 2015 as the beginning or end of many of America’s armed conflicts, call the historical society.