On May 19, Run for the Wall traveled through Morehouse Parish to honor Lieutenant Colonel James "Gabby" Gates with a wreath laying ceremony. The motorcycle group was escorted through the Parish that day by Sara Hawkins, a deputy with the Morehouse Parish Sheriff's Office, who had also met with the group when they stopped at the VFW hall last year.
Through these two meetings a friendship formed and Sara was able to represent the citizens of Morehouse Parish in Washington D.C. for the culmination of Run for the Wall at the Vietnam Memorial and at Rolling Thunder on May 18.
"She represented Bastrop and the Sheriff's Office well," said Sharon Trosclair with RFTW.
Hawkins spoke to the Enterprise about her experiences in D.C.
"My dad was in World War II, and he was on Saipan. After they invited me up I decided that in honor of all the vets and Dad, I would take this trip," Hawkins continued while noting that Sharon and Micky Trosclair and Karoni Forrester were instrumental in helping her make the arrangements, including offering her a place to stay.
"It was the trip of a lifetime," Hawkins said. "This ride is a healing process for veterans. They call it coming home when they go to the memorial. When these vets were there, many of them broke down because it was their first time in Washington or to the wall. I was able to minister to a lot of the vets. Some of them had come back home so to speak, and they got the welcome and hug they needed."
Sara rode through D.C. with former POW Joseph Hudson in the missing man formation into Arlington and to the Vietnam Memorial where each soldier who was remembered during the Run for the Wall cross-country ride was represented.
Hawkins also participated in Rolling Thunder, which is a ride around the Capitol that culminates in a concert. This year Hawkins said that approximately 750,000 motorcycles took part.
"There is nothing like hearing nearly a million bikes at one time," Hawkins said. "It was an experience like no other. It was moving. If the Lord lets me live long enough, I hope to participate again."