Sunday afternoon, two groups of American Legion Riders motorcyclists met up in Great Bend at the American Legion Post 180, completing a ride that was first undertaken in early 1960.
Post 180 Commander Ralph Sunley visited the Tribune Monday morning, and shared details of the event. As the 1950’s came to a close, Americans were becoming increasingly mobile as automobile ownership grew and the U.S. highway system rose to meet the challenge.
The American Legion saw an opportunity to promote itself alongside this cultural evolution.
“The leadership of six departments, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas , Oklahoma and Texas, worked in each of their states to have their sections of US-281 designated the American Legion Memorial Highway,” according to remarks offered during the Centennial Ride Closing Ceremony Sunday afternoon, provided by Sunley.
The vision was realized in 1960, and The American Legion Memorial Highway was named.
“In March of 1960, two groups of Legionnaires drove The American Legion Memorial Highway to celebrate the designation. They rode in a car caravan over four days,”the historical document states. Sunday’s event included motorcycles instead, but at the end, the riders stood in the “...same spot where they stood at the end of their drive” in 1960.
Sunday’s ride marked the 100th anniversary of the American Legion. Members taking part in the historic ride carried a banner the includes signatures of American Legion post commanders from the original 1960 ride. They unfurled the banner at the ceremony for all to see.
It included proclamations from the elected leadership in many of those states and cities.
“Those are many of the same posts the group of American Legion leaders visited in 1960,”according to the history.
The 2019 group will deliver the banner to Commander Brett Reistad on stage at the 101st American Legion National Convention on Aug. 27 in Indianapolis.