The caravan looks awesome to passersby, for sure. But don't think the riders really want to be there.
The 15th annual Ride for the Fallen held on May 7 in Austin, TX brings awareness to law enforcement officers from the Lone Star State killed in the line of duty and helps raise funds to maintain a monument erected by the Peace Officers Memorial Foundation in 1999.
Each year the convoy of motorcyclists gets longer. Just a hundred or so at the inaugural ride. Last year, more than 600. Organizers expect the same, if not more, this year as long as weather holds up.
Each year the ride gets bigger and as more people hear about it the more they want to participate. Riders come from Louisiana to Hawaii to help Texans honor their fallen.
The monument, located on the grounds of the state capitol in Austin, is hard to miss. It's a sleek, black marble wall, united with two tall columns, featuring the names of every fallen officer in the history of the state. That number is closing in on 2000 and for the 2017 biennial service planned by CLEAT and the POMF, more names will get etched into place. This year's tribute to the fallen officers, which takes place at the end of the ride at the memorial wall, is an abbreviated ceremony from the formal service that occurs during odd numbered years when the state legislature is in session. The names of those fallen in the last year get read along with an honorary tribute by agencies from across the state.
The foundation hopes to raise $20,000 this year from the ride and monies also help with historical research to find names of fallen officers history forgot, college scholarships, a disaster relief team and assistance to families in a line of duty death.
The Peace Officer's Memorial Foundation, founded in 1987 to honor Texas' fallen heroes and to support the families left behind, dedicated the monument in May 1999. The popularity of the wall and accompanying memorial service persuaded employees with the POMF to find new ways to raise money and in 2002 "Ride for the Fallen" roared to life.