The red, white, and blue waves in the wind and the Flame for the Fallen continues to burn as motorcyclists rev their engines and play out songs of solidarity.
The 'Flame for the Fallen' spent a third day in Oklahoma with families who have lost loved ones in service of the United States.
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The group Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest visited Veterans Park in Broken Arrow on Tuesday, July 21 to remember a veteran who died by suicide. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about 17 U.S. veterans commit suicide every day; a rate about 1.5 times that of non-veterans.
Army Staff Sergeant Morgan Robinson joined the Oklahoma National Guard in August of 2010, serving as a Petroleum Supply Specialist before reclassifying as a Unit Supply Specialist. Morgan was mobilized and deployed overseas to Afghanistan and Kuwait from August of 2016 to April of 2017.
Warren Williamson is the Executive Director of Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest and led the ceremony. He read a note from Morgan’s friends, describing her as outgoing, smart and caring. Morgan's mom Debbie Robinson said her daughter was assaulted by another service member, and in August of 2018, the 29-year-old took her own life.
"The ones we lose every year to suicide, sexual assault and rapes in the military has got to stop. We can't take it,” said Debbie. “Our loved ones can't take it and they are not doing anything about it."
If you or someone you know needs help, Parkside Psychiatric Hospital in Tulsa is available around the clock.
The group traveling cross-country is making sure other stories of families just like the Robinson's don't go untold. These motorcyclists put in 12-hour days that are hot, humid and emotionally taxing, spending more than an hour with each family they honor.
"[We] come in and tell them 'no you haven't been forgotten, that we love you, we will wrap our arms around you and let you know that your fallen service member didn't serve in vain,’" Williamson said.
It's a 22 -day excursion cross-country. In 11 years, 'Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest' has honored more than 800 fallen service members in every corner of the country.
"All of them raised their hand and said, 'I will serve, and I will serve proudly,’" Williamson said.
Bonni Miller is a motorcyclist and wife of a veteran and said their hearts are also heavy.
"This is tough on a lot of the guys because they are veterans,” Miller said. “They were there. I wasn't there, but boy I know how it feels.”
Families of the fallen sign an American Flag and get a 'Memorial Plaque of Distinguished Service' to honor their loved one's service and sacrifice. Families provide personal items of each fallen service member that will be displayed on the Fallen Soldiers Memorial Flame at Arlington National Cemetery on August 2.
"You can immediately see in these families eyes how important and special it is," Williamson said.
During closing ceremonies at Arlington, the names of every honored service member will be announced, followed by a single bell ringing for each of the fallen.