Washington, D.C. (WTXL) -- The moment they have all been training and riding for was at hand. It was a chance to ride their bikes through the waving crowds of survivors and honor the fallen officers, but first a very early 5:45 a.m. start.
When you are traveling 250 miles at an average of 15 miles per hour, the trip takes three days to complete and nothing is easy. Though they never forget why they are riding, someone lines the road with the signs that bear the names of the fallen to help serve as a stark reminder. As a group, the riders push on.
This ride serves as a memorial, but it is a time to bond as a family. A family laughs together, a family cries together, and a family mourns together.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall is etched with 20,538 names, and each one has a story. Walk down either side of the path, and you will hear these stories. Loved ones share the story of how their officer died, and how they lived.
The memorial is built with a ledge that is opposite of the wall along both sides. Family members sit and they stare at the name, that is now their spot.
The last leg of the tour is very celebratory, so many emotions about being able to finish and meet the survivors. Nobody is happy about knowing the name of someone on the wall, but they are all proud they will always be remembered as a hero.
Survivors wait with anticipation for the riders. As soon as they hear the roar of the motorcycle escorts, they start to cheer.
I stood next to a woman whose husband died and was added to the wall this year. She held a sign that said John Kincaid. I asked her, “Who is John Kincaid?” She said she had no idea, but that was the man who was riding for her husband. As cyclist after cyclist road by, she asked them all if they knew John. Finally a man on a bicycle stopped and said, “I am John.” The woman reached out and hugged him and they both were so overjoyed. Up until that exact moment, they had never even met. In an instant, they were bonded for life.
There were 117 officers who were killed in the line duty in 2014, and at the wall there were 117 stories just like the woman who was looking for John Kincaid.