The honoring of veterans took to the streets of Roswell Friday morning as the annual Nation of Patriots tour arrived in the city.
About 30 New Mexico motorcyclists and their riders, some affiliated with biker groups and some “lone wolf” riders, took part in the annual tradition, begun nationwide in 2010. The tour carries the U.S. flag on a round trip from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, during a 110-day, 14,500-mile journey through many cities and states to raise funds for veterans.
Flag bearer Ryan Frost of Los Lunas brought the flag to Roswell Friday. A procession of bikers and law enforcement escort cars then took the national emblem from the Chisum Travel Center on North Main Street to the Champions Motorsport bike dealership on West Second Street.
That location was the first in New Mexico to sign up as a Nation of Patriots stop on the tour, said Terry Proctor of Ruidoso Downs, an affiliated officer with the national group and the uncle of the flag bearer. Another local coordinator was Jorge Armendariz of Roswell, who rides with the Guerreros.
Saturday a biker from Clovis will pick up the flag from the dealership to take it to that town. On Monday, it will continue on its journey by heading to Lubbock. It is due back in Wisconsin by Sept. 8.
“We help our veterans in need, past and present,” said Proctor, who explained the group focuses primarily on wounded combat soldiers who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also will help veterans of other eras. He said a major emphasis of the work is to help cover hotel and travel costs for veterans receiving medical care away from home.
“We try to help the families as much as we can, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Proctor said. “Last year, we made over $190,000 to distribute.”