Perspective piece courtesy 'Run For The Wall' Director of Public Relations/Communications Nick Hentges
When American service members went to Vietnam, I was too young to go, but old enough to understand what was going on. When they returned home, I was embarrassed to witness to the cruel treatment and hostility our veterans received after serving for months and years in a foreign land, permanently injured from what they'd experienced, fought against, even from what they'd seen.
I was 20 when I came back from my first combat tour. When I came back to Hawaii, where I was stationed at the time, there were people lining the highway across the island where the Pearl Harbor Naval Base was. They were welcoming us home, treating us like heroes. The same happened when I came home from Desert Storm, then again after OIF 1. The complete 180 degree change in the treatment between Vietnam-era veterans and myself plays a major part in why I've ridden the last several years, and why I'll ride this Memorial Day Weekend in Washington D.C.
My name is Nick Hentges. I am the Director of Public Relations & Communications for Run For The Wall and a retired Marine with 25 years of service, seeing employments during the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF 1).
When I retired from the Marine Corps in '06, I heard about Run For The Wall. I quickly realized it was my way of giving back to Vietnam veterans who did not receive the welcome home that I had. The ride started in California and travelled to our nation's capital, where we pay tribute to our POW/MIA's those Vietnam veterans who never received a proper welcome home and thanks from their selfless service, and more.
The run has expanded to several routes, including a new Route (Sandbox Route) which goes from the Vietnam Wall to the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles Ill, which can be found at our site under 'Run Info'. We are finalizing details and preparing to travel to D.C. again, as Rolling To Remember will continue an important tradition that has been a staple in the cause of remembering our POW/MIA's for decades.
The overall emotion relayed from those who participate in Run For The Wall is excitement. We're excited that Rolling To Remember will pick up the mantle this Memorial Day weekend, refresh the message, add to it with the recognition of the 22 veterans who take their lives daily, and give our nations riders, veterans, supporters, and all around patriots a place to heal, roll, and remember. We'll see you in May.