Photo: 18/8/18, West Yellowstone, MT
Be warned. On August 17th, 2019, we are coming to your town. If you live in Helena, Townsend, Three Forks, Ennis, or West Yellowstone, or any other community along highway 287 – the Montana POW/MIA Memorial Highway, it is far too late to avoid the feelings that may occur.
At first, you may think you feel a subtle vibration under your feet. An earthquake? Or, perhaps a stampeding herd of buffalo about to trample your prize zucchini? Soon you will also hear something. It could sound like a cloud of angry bees searching in vain for their runaway queen, or perhaps like a group of 10-year-olds, hopped up on sugar and blowing Bohemian Rhapsody on kazoos. But soon you will realize the sound is getting closer and louder. Your heart may start beating a bit faster.
You look toward the sound. You will see a scary sight. A highway patrol car with flashing lights and hundreds of motorcycles of all types in pursuit. You may think all the scary motorcycle gangs in the region have gathered and are coming to raid and pillage your town. You may feel the urge to run the other way, or to call the police. You should do neither.
You should relax - perhaps grab an American flag to wave around - and watch as participants of the 6th Annual Montana Ride to Remember passes through your town, right in front of your eyes. This is event organized by the Montana POW/MIA Awareness Association and follows highway 287 from Helena to West Yellowstone. Highway 287 was designated the Montana POW/MIA Memorial Highway by Montana's governor, Steve Bullock on May 23rd, 2014. We make this ride in memory of the more than 82,000 POW/MIA personnel from across the country with a special focus on the 53 POW/MIA service members that have not yet returned home after leaving Montana to serve their country; eight still-missing from WWII, 27 from the Korean War, 16 still-missing from the Vietnam War, and two are still missing from the Cold War.
This event is open to anyone who chooses to participate and is traditionally held on the 3rd Saturday in August. The ride begins after an opening ceremony at Memorial Park in Helena and ends with a closing ceremony at Pioneer Park in West Yellowstone. There will be two rest and refuel breaks, one at the Town Pump near Three Forks, and one in front of the school in Ennis, along Charles Avenue. We will have a police escort for the entire length of the ride. So, no, the patrol car with the flashing lights at the front of the procession is not trying to get us to stop, they are there to help us get though the towns as quickly as possible.
The table below shows approximate times of arrival in the various communities along the route.
Town Pump generously offers free bottled water to riders at the Three Forks refueling stop.
During our stop in Ennis, the GFWC Madison Valley Woman’s Club has generously offered to provide sack lunches to the hangry participants during the Ennis school rest break. Proceeds from donations for the lunches will go to the Quilts of Valor foundation. Quilts of Valor’s mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts.
You may find more information about the Montana POW/MIA Awareness Association, this ride, and the other veteran support activities we do, by visiting our website at http://mtridetoremember.org/ and our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MTRideToRemember
The Montana POW/MIA Awareness Association exists to increase awareness of the important POW/MIA related issues for the people in our area. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and any funds raised go to support the replacement of the flags we post at the Helena end of Montana’s POW/MIA Memorial Highway and in the planning of and preparation for our annual ride (purchasing posters, fliers, patches, etc.). Any excess funds are donated to various Montana and National veteran-based organizations as specified in our bylaws. We do not raise money to enrich ourselves, only to support our ongoing mission to bring POW/MIA awareness and veteran issues to the forefront.