By Michael McCarthy
Our current road trip has brought us to Frederick, Md. It is about an hour outside of Washington D.C. and is home to Fort Detrick.
While riding from Salem, Va., we drove along Interstate 81, the main highway into the Washington and Baltimore area from Nashville, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala.
For the first hour I caught up on some sleep. Suddenly, I woke up to the bus braking hard at high speed. I sat up and saw we were in what seemed to be traffic.
As I looked out the side window I noticed a lot of motorcycles. I figured it must have been a group of bikers out for a ride. Then I remembered it was Friday -- who goes for a group ride on a Friday?
One of the bikes had a bumper sticker on the wind shield. I noticed it said "Run for the Wall." I didn't think much of it, then noticed the "POW" lettering next to it. I realized it had an affiliation with the United States Armed Forces, so I took interest.
My nickname on the team is "Google," so as you might expect I used Google to search "Run for the Wall."
I found out the bikers belonged to one of two groups riding from Los Angeles to Washington in honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
They make the ride each year, reaching Washington on the Friday before Memorial Day and spending the weekend viewing the monuments around our nation's capital.
Their motto is simply, "We ride for those who can't."
As I read about the bikers and their cause, I realized this wasn't just a group of bikers out for a leisurely ride. I looked ahead of the bus and saw literally hundreds of riders at least a half-mile long.
Like most Americans, I have no idea what it is like to go to war.
I've never been in a foreign country being shot at by an enemy that doesn't speak the same language. I've never been driving down a road and had an Improvised Explosive Device blow up the vehicle I am in. I've never seen a bomb kill my closest friends.
All I know is what I've read, what I've heard and what I've seen in documentaries that are "kind of what it is like."
What I do know is I will always have the upmost respect for those willing to sacrifice their lives to better the lives of those around them.
Memorial Day marks a special day for nearly every American. It originated as a way to honor those who died for Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War. Today, it commemorates all those who have sacrificed their lives for our nation.
Many of us know someone who has made the ultimate sacrifice while in service. These men and women are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, siblings and friends. They are not just soldiers. They are our heroes and forever deserve our love and admiration.
To all military personnel thank you for your service to our nation. A special thank you to my brother, brother-in-law and sister for their service. We are forever grateful for your sacrifice.
McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays for the Salem (Va.) Red Sox, the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. His column runs Sundays throughout the baseball season. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.