Bikers ride for veterans

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of bikers gathered on this Independence Day to ride for those who served. Saturday marked the second annual Gulf Coast Bike Fest.

"It's about respecting your country," said Ira Johnson.

It's for veterans like Ira Johnson. Johnson spent 30 years serving our country. When he returned from Vietnam, he says there was no welcome home celebration.

"I came back during the hippie days, and we were getting eggs thrown at us. And we were being called baby killers, and now people are starting to realize what we were doing," said Johnson.

People like members of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Bike Fest.

"I ride during different events, and I looked at the coast, our home. I'm like why can't we have something like that here," said Sam Tootle.

Sam Tootle says the freedom run is their way of publicly showing support for those who served and they called on the community to help.

"It's really about praying for the individual more so than the motorcycle," said Ron Clark.

Members of the Christian Motorcycle Association and the Red Cross were on hand to help with the event.

"It was just a grand opportunity for us to come out and be part of the effort and pay tribute to the veterans and be a part of something that's bigger than us," said Bill Brent with the Red Cross.

While the event is only two years strong, community members are confident it will become an annual tradition South Mississippi can look forward to.

"I think it's going to get bigger and bigger and bigger and I hope it goes on for years," said Clark.

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