Celebrating Veterans with The 2022 Tour of Honor and Veterans Rock in Dudley, NC

As we come into Memorial Day weekend, we are challenged to remember those who gave their lives in service to their country. One particular way we can do that blends with another thing we love to do with long weekends: travel.

About The Tour

The Tour of Honor is a first responder and veteran-focused motorcycle tour that visits memorials and museums across the United States and contributes to charity. The tour began after a visit to the memorial at Shanksville, PA following 9-11, and a sub-route continues to honor just 9-11 sites for riders who want to focus on that specifically. “We are well over 1000 riders now,” said NC rider and tour sponsor, John Morton. “You ride your ride how you want to, whether you want to make it a traveling tour or you are a trophy runner racing to win the prize for a particular region.”

Participants register through the tour website and earn trophies based on how many memorials and monuments they visit during the tour dates. Additionally, $25 from each registration fee is contributed to the rider’s charity of choice: Fisher House FoundationGold Star Family Memorial Foundation, or Gary Sinise Foundation First Responders Outreach. According to the tour website, profits after expenses are divided equally between the three charities. The tour runs from April 1 through September 30, and riders are encouraged to visit as many memorials and monuments as possible.

Veterans’ Rock, Dudley, NC

One of the locations on the tour is Veterans’ Rock in Dudley, NC.

Veterans’ Rock is a giant painted rock that honors all branches of the military with a specific nod to its local military installations. The rock was a labor of love and volunteer effort from the community and Discipleship Christian Church. It was painted by the pastor of the church who is also a commercial artist. Visitors to the rock are welcome to come and sit on flag benches and take as much time as they need to pause and reflect.

Final Thoughts

Wherever you find yourself this weekend, take time to reflect on those who have sacrificed in service. No freedom that we have in America came free; men and women fight daily to defend and keep it this way. Sometimes that fight costs lives.

It is easy to forget about this sacrifice because we live in a place that is not constantly a war zone. We argue over gun control and who should be allowed to do certain things in this country, but even that argument is a gift we should thank our military for.

America is a free country–not a perfect one. We are free because of our form of government and the laws in place that protect individual rights and expression. We are unique; no other country is quite like us in their organization. We built a nation on mutual respect and integrity. It is the right to keep it that way that our military defends.

Show thankfulness for the land you live in. Voice respect for those who choose to honor and protect it. Be a gear that keeps the engine of our country moving–not a cog in the wheel.

The Language of Oppression

The language of oppression hides

in bitterness and hate, cowers

beneath tables and folds

of a woman’s skirts, lowers

its head and hands

to the feeding trough, surrenders

its body while its insides

scream defiance and resistance

The language of oppression chokes

out Truth, stifles

what really happened

to our mixed race

American



I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. I’m wrapped up in poetry and editing books where I am taking the last classes of my master’s degree in English. After reading a lot of Native American poets like Layli Long Soldier, I was moved to respond to the way so many Americans are stuck looking backwards. Even though their narratives are stories happening right now, they are influenced by a perception that some Americans are victims who are owed something by other Americans who were oppressors. There is something wrong with that.

On this blog, I shared a very personal poem from my own struggles with identity and heritage. That poem went on to be published by Sylvia Magazine.

No one would imagine I would have such issues, though, because I am as white as white can be. In our culture, white is synonymous with oppression. In the South, I am particularly aware of the hateful stares of my “minority” neighbors. Everyone assumes that I have had an easier life because I am white and that my ancestors owned their ancestors. If they asked, I’d tell them the truth: my ancestors lived in tiny rooms with newspaper walls on land they did not own. They worked alongside former slaves; they didn’t own any slaves of their own.

Racial identity is a complicated thing in America. We want to claim a strand of our DNA like we are pure bred of that nationality. The truth is that we are all mixed. If it were not so, we would not have survived in this brutal, foreign land. For love or survival, we formed alliances with other cultures and mixed our blood with our neighbors.

I can look back on that and say my poor ancestors were taken advantage of by an oppressive majority race, or I can look back on that truth and say my ancestors made sacrifices to afford a better quality of life for their offspring. I believe both are true, but which one perpetuates peace and harmony in society today?

We can’t change the past. At some point, we have to make peace with what happened to our ancestors and be thankful for the sacrifices that were made to provide a chance for a new life for all of us. The American melting pot is not easy or beautiful to all groups of people, yet we all are that pot. We need to realize that it says more for our resilience and determination that we are still here despite all the atrocities of the past than it does to point fingers at others and claim we are better than them because we were victims. In every family tree, there are both victims and victimizers. Instead of more protests, insincere apologies, and tax-paid handouts, we should embrace our own life story and make the most of the days we are given.

Looking back on history is not where we find our identity; it is where we learn how to do better in our own lives. True identity can only be found in Christ.