by Joseph DeGweck

“This July 4th, 2007, I will be celebrating my two-hundredth and thirty-
first birthday. Some may consider this a phenomenal feat; but from a
historically perspective, I am considered a youthful nation. When
compared with the Roman Republic, which lasted for more than 1,000 years,
and went on to, influence the culture and development of the Byzantine
Empire that ruled over the Eastern half of Europe for almost 14
centuries; I am just a child. I am The United States of America. I am
the ‘land of the free’ and ‘the home of the brave.’ I am the ‘melting pot
of the world.’ I am ‘the land of hope and opportunity.’ I am what I am
because of the hard work and diligent effort exuberated by the people
that I serve, and who serve me. Together we form ‘a perfect union,’
dedicated to the equality and freedom of all people. It is through the
community and unity of these people that I will persevere.”

The testimonial on the preceding page is only part of my personal perception of what great pride I take in being a citizen of the United States. I realize that this is not a utopia and never will be but I am grateful to those who have contributed toward its security and its growth.

That is why, this month, After 50 News, has chosen to honor a local chapter of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club (VNC M/C). Together with their local chapter of the Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club, they are committed to provide “a better future” for all of our veterans and their families. This free riding motorcycle club began in 1984 and has since grown into an international organization with members in Europe, Canada, Australia and all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii. Their top priority is to bring home and account for each of our POW/MIA patriots; but this group of loyal Americans does much more. They continue to pursue new challenges and are committed to support not only each other but also the communities in which they live. This past week I had the honor and privilege of being able to meet with two active members of this distinguished group.

William Durys, better known on the road as “$Bill,” is a Vietnam Veteran. His passion is to provide support to other comrades of that war; for they share a common bond and “unique problems” that only they can communicate and understand with each other. He is a retired postal worker, a father, a husband, and a friend to all who know him. His outreach extends to all of his brothers and although he lives in the Buffalo area, he spends much of his time at the VA Hospital, on Richmond Ave. in Batavia, helping those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He enjoys the atmosphere at that facility. The park-like scene with trees and grass and picnic tables, provides a relaxed setting for easing the pains left by the horrors of war. There is also the Memorial Walkway which this organization had established as a tribute to those veterans who have gone through the program and have since passed away. It is a tribute honoring them for their service and remembering them for their contributions.

Steve Cunningham, whose road name is “Metro”, is a member of the Legacy Motorcycle Club. He is the New York State Sergeant at Arms. Steve served as a Marine during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1978-1979. He is also a father, husband, and a friend to all military who have served and will continue to serve this great country. “Metro” plainly and purely states: “if they are a veteran in need; that’s one of the things we do; we help out families .We assist them; if they can’t find help from somebody, we try to find it for them.”

These veterans are just two examples of the commitment that is instilled in the character of all the members of VNV M/C. It is the largest veteran motorcycle club in the world. Disciplined in the temperament of the military, its members adhere to a strict code of ethics and values. After meeting the basic requirements, one must then earn their way into becoming a member. There is pride in wearing their patch and a sworn oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of America. These men are pledged advocates for veteran’s rights and are activists in assuring that our returning troops receive the medical and reorientation benefits that they often need when returning home.

Aside from pursuing their initial objective, the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club also continues to support their local communities. Just last week they sponsored an event for retiring “Old Glory” with the dignity and respect it so well deserves. They have been insightful and creative in their planning of fund raisers within our community. “This year we are doing the benefit for the food bank. We help them out two to three times a year”. At their “Run for Wheel Chair Games” event this July 28, they will also collect can goods and non-perishable foods that go directly to the food bank of Western New York. This event will raise money to help our local area disabled veterans to afford travel to Dallas, Texas as participants in the National Veterans Wheel Chair Games. They support and collect donations that provide necessary goods and services for our active troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The VNV M/C has sent phone cards to our troops overseas. They sent Christmas Trees to a Division in Iraq. Another Chapter in Florida had adapted 5 Marines and provided a coffee pot and other supplies that help them as they perform their duty of protecting us. They are also having their National Convention in Buffalo this September 6-9, 2007. They expect members from all over the world to attend. So far they have booked over 250 rooms in local hotels; and at their last convention they had over 1400 members gathering together. Every Memorial Day they gather in Washington DC and lead the parade in the memorial service. It is their ride to the wall which honors all those soldiers that gave their lives in support for the principles and values of this country during the Vietnam War.

The VNV M/C has just recently established a local club house at 1275 Broadway in Buffalo. This will be their new home of operations for achieving their objectives. Every Saturday night they will be opened to the public as a means of promoting their goals and furthering their achievements. Feel free to stop in and visit. Also visit their website at One of their mottos is, “WE FOUGHT TOGETHER & WE RIDE TOGETHER”. Well, today and tomorrow they will continue as brothers to ride and to fight for the rights of all those who have chosen to serve this country. All of those soldiers, that have kept us free to enjoy this 4th of July celebration, 2007 and beyond. So as they ride freely against the wind, their Harleys roaring along the blacktopped highways; remember that there is a purpose in what they do. There is a responsibility and duty for which they serve. There is hopefulness within their heart. Their purpose is to serve. Their duty is to perform honorably. Their hopefulness is to preserve the freedoms of this country for centuries to come. God Bless and ride freely united together toward freedom for all. Forever a soldier!

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