The annual Ride For America motorcycle parade was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the event returned to Morgan County on Memorial Day 2021 with an estimated 1,300 motorcycles roaring through the little city of Bostwick on the morning of May 31.
With Madison not quite ready to host the event in the wake of the coronavirus, the cyclists decided to take a different route through Morgan County, riding through Rutledge from the originating point in Loganville and then turning east on Fairplay Road toward Highway 83. The motorcycles turned south on Bostwick Road before turning left on Church Street past Bostwick United Methodist
Church and Gibbs Memorial Baptist Church. Appropriately enough for an American ceremony, a baseball field was on the other side of the road.
The motorcyclists turned left on Wellington Street and then right on Highway 83 and heading north out of Morgan County.
The City of Bostwick also took the opportunity to dedicate a veteran’s memorial that had been in the works since 2014, according to Morgan County’s Chief Deputy Keith Howard – an Army veteran himself – who addressed the assembled crowd and Bostwick City Council members on hand, including Ken Johnson, Angie Howard, Damon Malcom and Lee Nunn.
Howard recognized members of the Bostwick Veterans Committee who paved the way for the memorial, including Air Force veteran Larry Taylor and his wife Joan, Navy veteran Jack Olsen and his wife Fran, Army Veteran Wayne Adcock and citizen member Pam Whitney, who is the mother of Marine Veteran and Purple Heart recipient Wesley Hayes.
Howard said the memorial project was originally estimated to cost approximately $25,000, but several businesses provided materials or at reduced cost to complete the project at just under $20,000, including Bar J 2 Construction - Bishop, Federal Flags - Atlanta, Lee Nunn Farms – Bostwick, Power Bricks of Athens, The Engraving House – Lithonia and T & R Sawing – Elberton.
“The Committee decided on a paver pavilion with engraved brick,” Howard said. “Bricks can be ordered by any veteran in memory or honor for $50 that identifies their name, branch and conflict. Today, we have 86 engraved bricks in the pavilion. We wanted branch stones that boldly represented the various branches of service and a POW/MIA stone that represented those who are not forgotten. We wanted a flagpole with our American flag towering over the stones in remembrance of what the sacrifice is all about. It had to be constructed in a location of the park that would be visible from a vehicle to accommodate the disabled. Collectively, this was a community project that we wanted to represent the values of Bostwick, Morgan County, the State of Georgia and the United States of America. By honoring and remembering veterans who have died, who have served and who are serving so that regardless of our background we can live free and call ourselves Americans. On behalf of God’s Country……God Bless America.”
Following Howard’s address, a memorial wreath was placed in front of the new monument and a trumpeter played “Taps.”
Reverend Doug Jordan of the Bostwick United Methodist Church, himself a former submarine crew member, spoke to the crowd, remembering the crew of the U.S.S. Scorpion that sank with all hands in 1968.
“It’s a great honor and privilege to be part of this program,” Jordan said. “I am so proud of what Bostwick has done with this area. A lot of time you’ll see me walking around with a ball cap like this on. It has my submarine dolphins. I’m a qualified bubblehead. On the front, it says, U.S.S. Scorpion. I never rode the Scorpion. The Scorpion is a fast attack submarine that is lying on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean 20,000 feet down. That is almost four miles. She went down in November of 1968 with 99 men aboard. In the sub-service, we say they are on eternal patrol. Those are the kinds of people we are here to remember today.”