Hundreds of American Legion members on motorcycles will roll through Phelps County this weekend.
Not only that, they’ll spend the night here, and local riders are working to build a patriotic demonstration to bid the riders farewell on the morning they rumble out of town.
“It’s called the Legacy Run,” said Robert Hawn, commander of both the St. James Post 607 and District 16 of the American Legion. “They’re raising money for scholarships for children who have lost parents in the line of duty.”
The Legacy Riders each year pick a long route to ride together. Last year, they rode from Niagara Falls to Indianapolis. This year, they’re riding from Indianapolis to Houston.
“They usually end up at the city where the national convention will be held,” Hawn said.
This is the eighth annual American Legion Legacy Run. It starts early Sunday morning in the city where the American Legion National Headquarters is located, Indianapolis. The 1,500-mile ride will take five days.
“They’ll stop at the end of their first day at St. James,” said Hawn. That stop, scheduled for 4:45 p.m., will be on the grounds of the Missouri Veterans Home, where Post 607 meets.
“We’ll have a barbecue and some entertainment for them, and they’ll be able to visit with residents. Many of the residents are post members.”
Hawn said 525 riders are registered for the Legacy Run, although there likely won’t be that number of motorcycles present.
“There will probably be around 400,” he said. Not all riders make the full trip. Some ride only a few legs.
For instance, Hawn said he will ride from Phelps County to Springfield. Other Missouri Legion members will ride from border to border within the Show-Me State.
National Commander James E. Koutz will accompany the riders, Hawn said. It will be the commander’s second visit to St. James within 12 months.
“He was here back in November,” Hawn said.
Many of the riders will spend the night at Comfort Inn and Suites on Old Wire Road in Rolla, and the schedule calls for them to leave at 8 a.m. Monday.
Mark Williams, ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders, is organizing a show of support for the riders. He told the Daily News he has been contacting people to line up at the Doolittle overpass early Monday morning to wave flags as the Legion riders roar past on their way west.
Williams encouraged all area residents to show up with flags early Monday.
According to the American Legion’s website, “The Legacy Run will arrive in Houston, Texas, on the afternoon of Aug. 22 for a special reception event to be held at American Legion Post 554, in League City, Texas, just south of Houston. The League City American Legion Riders are offering three days of rides and activities for those staying for national convention activities.”
Page 2 of 2 - Charitable activities are also planned during the stop in the greater Houston area.
“It’s a pretty big event,” Hawn said of the Legacy Run. He added that having the national commander of the American Legion, as well as all the motorcycle riders in St. James, is special from a veteran’s perspective. “It’s history in the making,” he said.
Hawn noted the American Legion is the only veterans organization that “has the ear” of the president of the United States. He said the American Legion led to the formation of the Veterans Administration and the beginning of the GI Bill of Rights.