RAINELLE, WV (WVNS) — For 32 years, Veterans from all across the country trek through Rainelle on their way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. for Run For The Wall. This year, the official ride was cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns, but that did not stop one group of Veterans from making their way cross country.
“We’re here to remember and ride for those who can’t,” Ken Ley, an Army Veteran, said. “Remember the POW’s, the MIA’s, the KIA’s. We’re here for the gold star families, the families that still have people missing in action who don’t have answers.”
With a police escort, motorcycle engines roared throughout Rainelle on Thursday, May 21, 2020. It was not just the Veterans excited to see everyone. Rainelle native, Gail McKinney, said she cares about the Veterans so much and was excited to hear some were still visiting.
“The thing is, when I see old men riding, and even with their lady friends and everything, coming down that mountain, it just thrills me,” McKinney said.
Even in a pandemic, community members found a way to support the Veterans by honking their car horns to blowing whistles. Some were upset when they heard Run For The Wall was cancelled, but families were grateful Veterans were still able to visit Rainelle unofficially.
“I’m most excited to wave my flag at the Veterans,” Rainelle Elementary School student, Cheyton Howard, said.
“We live in Southern Illinois and we come down pretty much every year for Memorial Day and watch it,” Taylor McAllister said.
Taylor McAllisters’ mom is from Rainelle. Her family members still live in town.
The Veterans’ journey is not over just yet.
“We’re going to go into Washington D.C. and we’ve been told the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been opened for small numbers,” Run For The Wall Founder, James “Gunny” Gregory, said. “We intend to go and visit our friends and complete the mission.”