5/22/19 5:30 p.m. UPDATE: The anticipation and excitement continues to build down every star-spangled street in Rainelle.
Molisha Samples with the LZ Rainelle West Virginia Veterans Reunion said they are placing the finishing touches to the town’s main street.
“It generally takes us about 11 months to get everything lined out, coordinated… Make sure we have everything on schedule,” Samples said. “It’s a little bit hectic, just trying to button up a few loose ends. We got some ceremonies coming up. We’re just trying to make sure everything’s going to be there.”
Because of the large magnitude of the event, the organization is also making those final calls to law enforcement for conducting traffic around one of the biggest traditions in western Greenbrier County.
“They will ride down from Sewell Mountain on Route 60, go through town, and circle at the end of town,” Samples said. “[They] will parade back through town, where they will end at the elementary school.”
Samples agreed the town is ready to rally around their heroes.
“Fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins… We all have somebody that has served in the military or is currently serving,” Samples said. “We just want to say thank you to everyone and we appreciate their services, and we just want to make them feel welcome.”
While Run for the Wall will be a celebratory event, it will also be a somewhat bittersweet time for Mayor Andy Pendleton, who will be observing it for the last time as the town’s mayor.
Since her election eight years ago, she said the town has a more colorful display of the stars and stripes, while keeping the tradition has held steady. Pendleton said she helped raise some 2,000 flags throughout her town.
“I always love my veterans. I always appreciate what they do, even my veterans in town or anybody walking through,” Pendleton said. “My granddaughter’s now commissioned in the Navy, so I have a special kin to the people that serve our country.”
Pendleton said she plans to continue volunteering and raising flags for future Run for the Wall’s after leaving office next month.
The three-day event starts Thursday, May 23 at around noon with the arrival of the motorcyclists.
5/20/19 7:15 p.m. UPDATE: The town of Rainelle is preparing for its annual Run for the Wall later this week. It has countless American flags all over its main street, including its Mountaineer Veterans Garden of Honor.
In front of the Rainelle Medical Center, more than 11,000 flags are staked in the ground. Each one represents a West Virginia soldier killed in action from World War I to the present day. For LZ Rainelle WV Veterans Reunion Committee Member Emma Michelinie, the display is just the beginning of their town-wide tribute to their military members.
“It’s a very soft spot to this town,” Michelinie said. “We have had soldiers from our town killed in action throughout the years. We like to honor all our veterans.”
Motorcyclists are expected to arrive at 11 a.m. Thursday, when festivities truly begin throughout the town and its elementary school.
ORIGINAL STORY: Soon, Rainelle’s main streets will be packed with two-wheeled vehicles as part of a patriotic tribute.
Under the direction of Emma Michelinie, veterans and volunteers from seven West Virginia counties will welcome hundreds of bikers Memorial Day Weekend as part of the Run for the Wall, an annual cross-country motorcycle trip 33 years in the making.
“We do things throughout the year with our veterans,” Michelinie said. “In honor of their fellow comrades that have been left behind or did not come back, we just picked up and carried the torch.”
With some of the riders being veterans themselves, Michelinie expected this salute to servicemen and women who cannot ride will be one of the largest in attendance.
“We just want… all of our soldiers back home… safely,” Michelinie said.
Due to security reasons, Michelinie said Run for the Wall’s parade in Washington, D.C. will be discontinued after this year. But its cross-country trip from California to the nation’s capital is still given the green light.
“If our goal is to make one moment of happiness in their life, that’s what we want to do,” Michelinie said.