For the first time in two years, hundreds of leather-clad men and women on motorcycles will roar into Wytheville Wednesday, May 25, when one of Wytheville’s most anticipated events returns to town following a two-year absence because of the Covid pandemic.
Run for the Wall is back.
A Welcome Home Ceremony is slated for around 4:30 p.m. in Withers Park after the motorcyclists arrive in town. Later that day, the riders will fill up on steaks, potatoes and more at the Wytheville Moose Lodge. The next morning, the student from Spiller Elementary will serenade them out of town during a ceremony at the park. The following Sunday, May 29, Wytheville will honor its local veterans during the Wall of Honor Memorial Day Ceremony.
Wytheville Tourism Director Rosa Lee Jude said the town is thrilled to welcome Run For The Wall back to Wytheville
“From the moment that we first announced that the group would be returning, there’s been so much excitement from the community,” she said. “Over the two decades that Wytheville has been a host town on the Southern Route of the mission, our citizens have grown to love this group of veterans and embrace them as family. We are hoping for a bright sunny day on Wednesday, May 25, so that people can line the streets and show these folks a warm Wytheville welcome.”
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The Welcome Home ceremony is open to the public. Local officials are encouraging residents to come out and welcome group members as they arrive via Exit 70 and Fourth Street.
Following the brief ceremony, the group will parade down Main Street to their hotels before dining at the Moose Lodge.
Moose Lodge Administrator Dan Biertzer said Moose members are gearing up for the big day.
“They start about 8 a.m. that day to get the food ready, preparing the grill and hand-cutting the steaks, and making salads,” he said. We are excited to have them back and are looking forward to it. But we’re also scared because we haven’t done it in two years. It used to come natural, but we’ve been out of it for two years. We hope everything goes well. We are looking forward to hosting them again this year for a great cause.”
One of RFTW’s favorite Wytheville experiences occurs the next morning when Spiller students provide a special program beginning at 9 a.m. in Withers Park. Run For The Wall riders will depart with a Main Street parade at approximately 9:30 a.m.
The group travels via four routes from California to Washington, DC, simultaneously for 12 days each May to raise awareness concerning the POW/MIAs from all wars who have never returned home. Wytheville became a stop when a Southern Route was begun in 2001.
RFTW began in 1992 when a group of Vietnam Veterans traveled across America on motorcycles, talking to local radio, TV, and newspapers about the thousands of men and women still unaccounted for from all wars. The RFTW’s final destination is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which they reach on the Friday evening before Memorial Day. For more information, visit www.RFTW.org.
The following Sunday, May 29, Wytheville’s annual Wall of Honor Memorial Day Ceremony will be held at the Wytheville Meeting Center beginning at 1:30 p.m. Guest speaker will be retired local educator Patty H. Younger, who previously served in the United States Army Reserves.
Residents are invited to all of these ceremonies to honor all military men and women, past and present.