Don Withrow is a patriot and a Harley rider.
For the 19th year in a row, Withrow will ride his motorcycle into Washington D.C. with countless others to honor fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.
Withrow helps organize Ride of the Patriots, which is an event organized and sponsored by the Fairfax Harley Owners’ Group and Patriot Harley Davidson in Fairfax, Virginia. On Memorial Day weekend, thousands of bikers will join together for a police escorted ride from Fairfax, Va. to the Pentagon.
“We try to remember, we try to pay tribute,” Withrow said. “We take into consideration veterans from all wars. We are not picky.”
The bikers of Ride of the Patriots will join a much larger organization called Rolling Thunder in D.C., which will celebrate its 30th anniversary of riding and advocating for the missing in action, MIA, and prisoners of war, POWs.
All together there will be hundreds of thousands of motorcycles riding into D.C. Memorial Day weekend to honor and remember fallen veterans.
For Don, the ride into D.C. gives him goose bumps and chills. He thinks about the veterans he served with and lost in the Vietnam War.
"The first tour I was in Vietnam, I lost one very good friend and a few people I was serving with, but didn’t much know,” Withrow said. "My second time there I commanded a fire base. I lost a few men there that were under my command.”
In 1963, Withrow joined the Army and became a field artilleryman when he was 18-years-old in to avoid being drafted.
“I don’t regret not even a minute of it. I enjoyed my time in the Army. You have a huge camaraderie there.”
To Don, Memorial Day is more than picnics and hotdogs.
“It's about showing honor, tribute, showing respect for those people that have given their lives or health and given their time to keep us safe."
And for the 19th year in a row he will ride his motorcycle alongside many to do just that.
Follow Justin Covington on Twitter @Jcovphoto