If you are looking for something to do with Dad this Father’s Day and honor the fallen heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country head down to the Grundy County Fair Grounds for The Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run. In its 10th year, the annual motorcycle ride starts in Morris, Illinois and ends at the Middle East Conflicts War Memorial on the banks of the Illinois River in Marseilles, Illinois. While the day is a somber reminder of the fallen, it is also a day for patriots to celebrate their love of country, motorcycles, and friendship.
“Located in Marseilles, Illinois, this monument was dedicated by the Illinois Motorcycle community in 2004 to honor those who sacrificed all in the name of freedom. The names of every service man and woman is listed on the wall, and is rededicated during the Freedom Run the third Saturday in June.”
“The project was conceived by Jerry Kuczera and Tony Cutrano and built with donated material and labor and is the first of its kind, in the History of the United States, to give honor to our fallen by name while a conflict is ongoing. It took 20 years to Honor our Vietnam Veterans. Almost 60 years to Honor our World War II Veterans. The names on the wall represent our fallen heroes from such diverse locations as Panama, Lebanon, the Balkans, Grenada, Somalia, Haiti, USS Cole, USS Stark, Terrorist attacks in Italy, Greece, Scotland, and the current conflicts in the Middle East.”
To participate in the run there is a $15 donation to the wall, and the pancake breakfast will run you an extra $5. With that donation, you get a dog-tag with the name and campaign of a fallen hero, a beautiful ride through the flag lined streets of the Illinois prairie and big ol’ stack of flapjacks. Those prices are per person, not per bike. So, if you are two-up, double the cost.
The day starts at 6 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at the Grundy County Fairgrounds on Route 47 in Morris, IL. That is the start of the lineup for the thousands of bikes that participate, so if you want to be towards the front of the pack, get there early. After breakfast, there is the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, the recognition of the Gold Star Families participating and a dignitary or two might say a few words. Then at 10:15 a.m. it’s kickstands up and time to roll, rain or shine.
The ride has quickly become a community event. All throughout the route, there are police officers blocking traffic and giving direction to the riders. The rural part of the route has the residents on their front lawn waving flags and hands. When the ride enters Marseilles and the bikes all slow, begin to bunch up and form a parade is a wonderful time. All the locals wave flags, and a firetruck hangs an enormous flag to ride under as the riders make their way to the memorial wall that is located right near downtown and the rally.
At the end of the run and viewing of the Memorial, the town of Marseilles has a rally and carnival. There you will find food, vendors selling all types of wares for bikers, commemorative t-shirts and plenty of adult beverages to cool you down all over the streets. The event is entirely kid-friendly too, so bring the little patriots along.
This is a great event to help remember the fallen heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice and your donation goes toward the memorial for them all.