Today will be my last day with the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America as I will head back to Dallas once we reach San Antonio. The riders will continue on to their final destination, Biloxi, Mississippi, as they continue to raise funds for Victory Junction children’s camp, a worthy and noble cause. I know right now everyone is focused on Indiana, but my Monday ride puts things in focus and I wish every candidate could have had the experience.
We departed from El Paso early Monday morning and it was doggone chilly, 49 degrees, according to my motorcycle “heads up” display. We got to Van Horn for a gas stop — actually more about getting blood flowing — before we headed south towards Marfa. There’s something about being on the open road on a motorcycle in America that puts you in touch with this nation and the people.
Monday, I was once again reminded that America is not New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, or any of the other large metroplexes. America is Van Horn or Marfa where we ate lunch on the town square. America is about seeing the beautiful terrain so diverse, yet ordered and perfect in every way.
America is about stopping in Presidio, Texas, a port of entry into the United States from Mexico, and visiting with the school kids who came out to wish us well. It’s about looking into the eyes of a young elementary school kid, a young fella, and giving him your riding gloves and watching his face beam with joy, as you sit him on your motorcycle and his teacher takes a picture.
You see, it’s about what we do for those we don’t consider the greatest amongst us, yet they are the greatest. Presidio, Texas is such a remote place, as well as Marfa, but those folks came out in droves to welcome us as we stopped in their towns. They may not have had all that much to give, but what they did give was much.And so Monday, I looked into the faces I will never forget, and was even more inspired to ensure the exceptionalism of this Constitutional Republic continues on for another 240 years. Why? Because one day, I want that young man to possibly pass on those motorcycle riding gloves to the next generation as he tells the story of the more than 100 bikers who came through his town, riding for children. As we left Presidio, there it was, Big Bend Ranch Park, and folks, it’s simply amazing. It’s one of those motorcycle rides you must make; it’s just not the same to do in a car. On a motorcycle, you become one with the grandeur and beauty of this place, of America. The road wound along the river and there was one very lovely high altitude pass that was just majestic. Going through Big Bend let me see a part of Texas that I didn’t realize existed and boy howdy, I will be back. We arrived at the little resort town of Lajitas, and the view from my room is breathtaking. I even got in a three mile run — altitude kicked my tail!
But again, being here in Big Bend just reinforces my passion for America. It’s not just about policy positions, it’s about having a simple passion for America, for Americans.
Every person wanting to be president of the United States needs to see this nation from the seat of a motorcycle and go through the small towns that are the backbone of this nation. That is what we need, instead of politicians whose only faces they see are the fat cat lobbyists who grease their hands with special interest monies.
The passion has to be about America.
Lastly, I have enjoyed being reunited with all my Kyle Petty riding buddies — but there’s one who I especially enjoy seeing. The reason is because we share so much history and our story is indicative of what does make America great.
Herschel Walker is a Heisman Trophy recipient. He also won SEC football and national championships. He was drafted into the NFL after a stint with the USFL, and played for “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys. Herschel is from small-town Wrightsville Georgia; I’m from Atlanta. Herschel’s debut game was against the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, 1980. He was a superstar freshman running back. I was in my sophomore year at Tennessee sitting in the stands watching him. Herschel went onto incredible greatness and athletic achievements. I graduated and went into the Army as a Second Lieutenant becoming the third generation in my family to serve. Yet, here we are riding together on this fantastic adventure — two Georgia boys. Today Herschel goes around giving motivational speeches on military installations. He is now serving as well.
My point is that America isn’t about jealousy and covetousness. We do not need to hate anyone for what they’ve achieved. We must realize we all have our part to play in this great nation. And this nation doesn’t care where you were born, or where you’ve come from. America says, go for it, reach for the golden ring and as the Army once said, “be all you can be.”
Herschel Walker and I wholeheartedly embraced that mantra. I watched him score touchdowns and defeat my school, and now we are riding partners — who now both live in Dallas. And here’s Herschel Walker born in simple Wrightsville and me from the inner city of Atlanta now riding motorcycles and hanging out with NASCAR legend Richard Petty and his son Kyle, along with very reputable men and women who come from all over the country for this cause.
That is America folks, that is what’s at stake. I believe and pray for the day that little fella in Presidio Texas will wear those Kyle Petty motorcycle gloves in a ride years from now. This is the 22nd anniversary ride. I look forward to the 30th, 40th, and 50th — of course Kyle Petty, Herschel, and myself will probably be on three wheelers, but oh well.
In closing, as I was going through Big Bend Park, this song came to mind, U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.” God bless the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. God keep America!