By Amantha Garpiel
TROY — A local Troy man, Shannon Forsythe, joined in on the National Veterans Awareness Organization (NVAO) annual motorcycle National Veterans Awareness Ride recently from Auburn, California to Washington D.C., which took place over 12 days.
Forsythe was not part of the entire ride from California, but joined the ride on in Iowa on Sunday, May 21, and rode through Iowa and Indiana and back to Brookville, Ohio on May 25.
Forsythe joined the National Veterans Awareness Ride to honor his son, Jacob Forsythe, who has served for six years in U.S. Army and is currently deployed in Syria. According to Forsythe, approximately 90% of the riders participating this year are veterans. During the ride, participants stop at various VA hospitals, schools and memorials as they cross the country.
“I wanted to go to support my son, Jacob, who’s over in Syria,” said Forsythe. “The whole ride is called a Veterans Awareness, and it’s spreading the word about the sacrifices people make and supporting them and supporting their families too.”
During their stops, they saw different schools’ ROTC drills and visited with the ROTC members. Also, during their visits to VA hospitals, the riders visited numerous veterans just talking with them to show their support and compassion.
“Every year we have ride pins and we come in and meet the veterans and we give each one a ride pin and we just talk to them,” said the Ohio Ride Coordinator Tony Cunningham. “A lot of them don’t have family, or their family lives too far of a distanced to come and visit them. It’s just our way, as veterans, to talk to another vet and just let them know that we care.”
The organization, NVAO, began in 2005 and has been holding the National Veterans Awareness Ride since the beginning. According the organizations website, nvao.us, there are three main parts to the ride. First, each day riders visit veterans homes and hospitals to let them know they have not and will not be forgotten; second, riders participate in memorial services, laying wreaths and showing respect for veterans who come before the group; and third, the riders visit schools to speak with students about giving back to their communities, serving the nation and showing respect for military veterans. Also on their website are daily updates from the ride and archives of previous ride updates.
During the 2023 National Veterans Awareness Ride, at the last stop in Washington D.C., the riders will attend the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and perform a wreath laying at the tomb in Arlington National Cemetery. Their schedule also includes optional visits to various museums and memorials throughout Washington D.C. such as he National Museum of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force Memorials.
“I honestly didn’t know it was going to be this rewarding for me,” said Forsythe.