Getting there

As I waited in line at LAX I noticed a poster that encouraged telling my #LAstory. I found that interesting since I was leaving LA to tell a legacy story that would eventually become an important part of my personal LA story. I’m fortunate to be part of a small group of motorcyclists who will travel The American Legion Memorial Highway.

My group is starting in North Dakota at the Canadian border and will ride south through three states to meet up with another group that is starting at the border of Mexico. When we meet in Kansas we will have covered the entirety of the memorial highway during the centennial celebration.

My travel day started in the early morning hours, so early in fact that I was able to get to LAX quite easily, and since it’s a motorcycle ride I’m traveling to there was no need to check baggage. I made it to Minneapolis, the closest place to rent a motorcycle suitable for this trip. My Uber driver is from Sudan, and although he wasn’t a military veteran, he knows well the products of war and was interested in the journey I am about to embark. Just getting to the start is a journey.

The six-hour ride gave me plenty of time to get used to the new bike, and now we are like close friends. This feels like Legacy for me. I have my own history near the start. The history of a time when WWI veterans were changing the face of our nation is still represented in this place that holds very dear to history. When I was young I hated the focus that this state puts on what I thought was looking back.

Now I have a different perspective.

The open space of North Dakota is as beautiful as I remember. When I was young I felt like there was nothing to do or see here. But now I was appreciating the raw natural beauty. That is, until a suicidal bug barreled into my face so hard that I later found it embedded in my forehead. I think it was a coordinated effort because it hit me so hard my head tilted back so that about 47 other kamikaze fools barreled right into my bare neck. They didn’t get me. I survived my first encounter with dusk on the open prairie.

Day 1

I was happy to meet a typical group of great Legionnaires the night before we started the northern route of The American Legion Centennial Ride. I was delighted to learn that the lowest common denominator of any group of veterans will always be the trash talk between services, and these folks were no different. I became fast friends with an amazing group of riders that I might never have otherwise come across in my life.

Early in the morning we made our way from the prairie casino to the Canadian border near the International Peace Garden where The American Legion Memorial Highway starts in the north.

Once we got to the start we all felt a sense of the history we were representing, and living. As we unrolled the Team Legacy banner for the first time and those present at the start signed it, National Vice Commander Jim Wallace spoke of the significance of the journey we were about to embark upon, and it seemed like we all felt it. This is fun, and exciting, but it’s also humbling to be a part of literally marking the history of this organization that represents so much to each of us. The legacy of this area is special for me as it represents my own beginnings. I grew up on the other side of the state, but I spent most summers very near this area. I learned how to ride a motorcycle, and many other important life skills in this vicinity. North Dakota has its own rich history, and growing up here gave me a sense of that. I think about those veterans coming home from World War I who started the organization that would have such an impact on my life and who this highway is meant to memorialize. I hope I can do their story justice in some small way by telling a story through this journey.