January 5, 2008
Dear Mr. Buckles,
It was a privilege to be with you September 22-23rd, 2007 with the nation’s only travelling Liberty Bell and the Patriot Guard Riders. You greatly encouraged your countrymen by ringing the Liberty Bell and riding a motorcycle with the Patriot Guard. Several riders told me they will never forget you giving everyone a thumbs up, a salute, and a smile as we rode from the VA Hospital out to your home.
It was an unforgettable afternoon as we gathered in your front yard. The 300 Patriot Guard Riders’ normal missions are to escort soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines from the airplanes to their final resting places. But on this day there was no escort. There you were, Corporal Frank Woodruff Buckles, a motorcycle messenger rider from WWI, first of our kind and at age 106 still sharing with us the thrill of a ride. Sir, you were Frank with us, representing the last of your generation out on your own front porch sharing with us General Pershing memories and other memorable words that needed to be passed on. You passed the baton of freedom to us as it was passed to you. You told us that we have a duty to live and you have set before us a fine example. Thank you, sir, for that honor. We will not drop the baton. We will do our duty and give honor and bear witness to the next generation for each sacrifice on the altar of freedom. The price of freedom has always been high.
Sir, when you reach eternity and you catch up to your men– tell them about us and about the baton pass. Tell them about the warriors you met who are coming along behind them, running the race and keeping the faith. Tell them we will join them in heaven when our duties are complete.
This was a wonderful honor to meet you and your daughter Suzanna and family. Phyllis and I looked forward to this occasion since my second cousin Diane Kent your friend and caregiver called me and told me you would like to see those Patriot Guard Riders and the Belladier of the Liberty Bell that tolls in honor of our soldiers. When Diane was in Texas with us she participated with the Patriot Guard Motorcycle Riders in honoring our troops by
standing in the line and helping to set up the Bell to ring the ancient toll given heroes for over five centuries. After your time is complete, it would be a privilege to toll in honor for you and the generation of warriors you represent. No one ever forgets the sound of Liberty. It is the heartbeat of America. General Pershing said the Liberty bell represents the values Americans fight to defend; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
After you called me I received a packet in the mail from you with pictures and your story of your service to our country in WWI, driving a motorcycle and an ambulance at the young age of 16. I went to my library and found two copies of a book I had bought at a Military Wounded Warriors fundraiser two years before,”America’s Youngest Warriors, volume 2. “I looked up your story and called the author, Ray Johnson, in Arizona and he told me more about you.
A few days later at the Veteran’s Cemeteries in Dallas and Ft. Hood, Texas, following soldier’s funerals, the Texas Patriot Guard Riders and the Liberty Bell stopped to refuel and refresh before disbanding to our homes. I told the men and women (mostly former veterans of Vietnam, Korea and the Gulf) about WWI Veteran Frank Buckles who defended freedom on a motorcycle in France in 1917.
The patriots fell silent as I told them that you, a young soldier at the old age of 106, knew of what we were doing and wished to ring the Liberty Bell in solidarity with us.
‘Wing Man’ E.R. Stroud said, “What are we waiting for? Let’s ride.”
‘Cap’, Rick Cole, central Texas ride captain and Gulf War veteran said, “Do you realize what an honor this is to have the opportunity to link up with this man who represents the men who protected and handed down freedom to us to protect and pass on?”
‘Double D”, David David, our Texas State Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders told me this was a priority mission and the Guard would escort the Bell for the trip to West Virginia to meet Frank Buckles.
The West Virginia Patriot Guard made it happen and every state Patriot Guard along the way handed “The Nations Only Traveling Liberty and Law Memorial “ forward to 371 Gap View Farm Lane. The Pennsylvania Highway Patrol insisted upon the giving of honor by providing escort and security during our entire time in Pennsylvania. For four days the Liberty Bell Display was honored to be placed with the “Original Liberty Bell of 1753”, on the brick sidewalk just outside the door where visitors enter to see the Liberty Bell. Over 4,000 visitors were allowed to pose for pictures, to ring, touch and hear the sounds of liberty exactly as was heard for over 92 years in Philadelphia before it was irreparably broken in 1846. The ABC News stations covered the entire journey of the Liberty Bell to your home.
When you invited the “Traveling Liberty Bell” to come you extended your hand to thank 180,000 Patriot Guard motorcycle riders ,who are mostly veterans like you, who participate in the concluding honors for our military, police and firemen. Thank you sir for a solid hand off.
David E. Hall, The Belladier