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Solemn tribute

By: Victoria Kemper, Democrat News

Victoria Kemper, Democrat News
The Missouri Vietnam Wall Run stops in Fredericktown before continuing on to the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall in Perryville.

Fredericktown welcomes Missouri Vietnam Wall Run with Proclamation in Honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day

Courthouse Square on Saturday played host to motorcyclists participating in the Missouri Vietnam Wall Run, a tribute to veterans and a solemn remembrance of those who never returned. 

Hundreds of motorcyclists from all over the state gathered in the square before heading on to Perryville where the ride ended its journey at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

During the stop in Fredericktown a small ceremony was held, beginning with a presentation of colors by cadets from the Fredericktown High School JROTC and the playing of the National Anthem. As the music filled the square, the area— which was just moments before filled with the rumble of motorcycles and the chatter of voices— became silent. Caps were removed and everyone turned their attention to the giant American flag flown high by the Fredericktown Fire Department.

Once the music stopped Fredericktown Mayor Travis Parker presented Ken Taylor, commander of Liberty Riders, with a proclamation in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day.

“Good morning, everyone,” Parker said. “Thank you to all the people who came out in support for all the men and women who served.”

The proclamation began with a solemn acknowledgment of the countless American military personnel who remain unaccounted for from various wars. 

Bikers listen to the National Anthem during their visit to the Court Square. (Victoria Kemper, Democrat News)

“Over 1,600 American military personnel are still missing from the Vietnam War, nearly 8,000 are unaccounted for from the Korean War, 120 from the Cold War, and approximately 73,000 from World War II, as well as one POW in Afghanistan,” Parker said. “Missouri men and women have long served with honor and distinction in our nation’s Armed Forces. Preserving America’s freedom and ideals, they often risk, and many have given their lives on the battlefield.”

Parker emphasized the importance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, when Americans unite to acknowledge the brave servicemen and servicewomen held in captivity and those whose fates remain unknown. He noted the enduring suffering of their families and the indignation and brutality endured by American prisoners of war.

“The City of Fredericktown commends and endorses the national commitment to account for those still missing from our nation’s wars as fully as possible,” Parker said. “As Mayor of Fredericktown, I do hereby proclaim September 16, 2023 as POW/MIA Recognition Day in the City of Fredericktown in honor of those Missourians who became prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action.”

Parker encouraged citizens to fly the POW/MIA flag as a tribute to those Missourians.

Taylor accepted the proclamation document and said he was happy to see the support from Fredericktown. He said it was pretty awesome to see the effort put forth by the community.

“When we first had the meeting with the governor, they had stopped doing the million-mile bike ride up to D.C., to the wall up there.” Taylor said. “(Governor Mike) Parson thinks this could turn into that. If we get anything close to a million miles, just think about 100,000 bikes rolling through Fredericktown. I mean it could. You might have bikes all the way back to [US Highway] 67. It could turn into something like that.”

Taylor said the governor’s office has expressed to the group that if the event keeps going and the towns keep supporting it, then they feel it could turn into something much larger. He said the ride has received a lot of support from Parson over the years, and he is the reason the ride has a police escort.

“When you go through these small towns, the hair on the back of your neck stands up,” Taylor said. “This ride is a way to honor. I didn’t serve. I wasn’t a vet. My dad was a Vietnam vet. To me it is just a way to give appreciation to the people who did serve and put their name on that blank check. Showing them how important it is to us.”

The visit went by quickly. Riders popped into a few local businesses, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and were off on the next leg of their journey.

Organizers are already excited about next year’s visit to the Missouri Vietnam Wall Run and would like to thank Don Reese, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Parker, the Fredericktown Fire Department, the Fredericktown Police Department, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and all the riders who brought such an impactful moment to Fredericktown.



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