“The Wave” Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 4

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We’ve done it! We successfully completed our 4412 mile journey across the UK & the US, arriving outside Washington, DC (Crystal City) on July 3rd and finishing at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, England on July 7thIt has been the ride of a lifetime, in large part because of your encouragement & support. I personally would like to thank each of you for holding us in your thoughts & prayers during the journey & in helping us achieve our goal of raising the awareness of the sacrifices that US & UK service members, veterans, & their families have made since 9/11.I also invite you to take one more step with me, specifically to do one act that works best for you (whether it is a donation of your money, time, or services) to remember, recognize or rejoice for those who have sacrificed so much for all of us. And for those who have already done this, you have my heartfelt thanks.

I would like to thank the members of the Sea2Sea Team whose hard work & dedication was instrumental in achieving our aim. They are (in no particular order):

Alvon & Maureen Elrod, Bruce & Marj Hammersley, Judy Dabney, Cheryl Washburn, John Sprowl, Tricia Murdock, Rob & Lynn Dow, Tracey Dow, Terry Wells, Jo Rockwood, Maggie & Tom Donaldson, Chip Meeks and Bob Cox.

Finally, I’ll be taking a backward glance to thank those in the next edition of The Wave to recognize our corporate sponsors & ‘shepherds’ who supported & guided us from Sea2Sea and to talk about the future. Once again, thanks again to all of you, as you have been key in helping us to give back to those who served.

Sincerely,

Tom

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE JOURNEY FROM SEA2SEA

Where we have been, and what we have done (where we are going will be in the next newsletter)

The journey from Sea2Sea has been a teacher of many things, but three stand out and encompass what Sea2Sea intends to accomplish:

  1. Remember

  2. Recognize

  3. Rejoice

Our forthcoming efforts encircle these important lessons. At Sea2Sea, we will strive to remember those who have fallen, recognize the sacrifices of families and individuals who serve our country and rejoice in the freedoms that we enjoy.

It seems like a lifetime ago that we began our trek at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire England, but it was only on April 16th & we could not have had a better send off from the Base Commander and the ‘US First Sergeant’ driving a World War II jeep.

REMEMBER:

We began our mission to remember the fallen for each day of the journey.

We held a total of 66 remembrance ceremonies to reflect the loss of over 7000 US & UK service members.  This was the hardest part of the ride, made easier by all those who participated (estimated to be over 2000 total).


For me, enormity of the loss hit when we laid out the cards in the amphitheater behind the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier on the morning of 4th July.  We could only glimpse the depth of feeling that family members & friends must experience on a daily basis.

RECOGNIZE:

We also recognized both on our website and at each ceremony a US & UK Military Charity and nominated those two to be our ‘charities of the day’.  Here is the enthusiastic reception given by the CEO of the Veterans Charity, Danny Greeno on the first day of the ride at Brize Norton.

REJOICE:

Finally, the 3rd ‘R’ is, of course, Rejoice! This was the easiest part to do every day, as we met diverse people in both the US & UK united by a deep set of core values of love, support, & appreciation of those who wear or wore the military uniform or supported them.  Here is some representatives of the Combat Bikers Veterans Association who welcomed us in Fayetteville, NC on Jun 18th.

And here is what the celebration party looked at Buffalo Wild Wings in Crystal City, on July 3rd.

So, the leading question is, ‘What next?’  I will be working on a final ‘R’ before we gear up for the next challenge and that ‘R’ is Recover!

All the best,

Tom

“The Wave” Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3

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Volume 1 Issue 3
The end of the US leg of the 2012 Sea2Sea Challenge is fast approaching and the riders are within striking distance of completing the journey from the west coast to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Sitting on the seat of a bicycle that has carried me more than 4200 miles, across a continent and so much further than imagined has given me a perspective I had not anticipated. This passage has helped me reach beyond myself and out to the hearts of Americans and British alike.

Ending such an odyssey is a bittersweet experience – amazing for the enthusiasm and support we have received from so many along the way; terrible for such a meaningful undertaking to come to a conclusion at all; bittersweet describes it completely.


The Remembrance Ceremonies have ranged in attendance from merely three of us on occasion to well over 200 on others. Throughout the journey, one prominent fact shone through all the weather, all of the miles, the mountains, the valleys, the long straight-aways and the curvy roads too: Americans love their country and the veterans who have defended it!

To paraphrase Alexis de Tocqueville from his book Democracy in America, Liberty cannot be established without morality, or morality without faith. We have found people, or rather people have found us, whose faith remains the bedrock of their lives and who consistently choose hope over despair as a compass for the future.

The individuals we encountered across the United States are the heroes of today. We have met Cub Scout Mothers who are helping the orphans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to establish normalcy in their lives. We have also met police officers putting on a charity event for a mother whose son was seriously wounded in Afghanistan. There are many words to describe the actions of these caring people, none of which fully capture the devotion each shows for one another or the feeling that comes from being witness to their innumerable acts of caring and kindness.



These people serve each other with love and charity, pursuing nothing for themselves. Instead they seek only to relieve the burdens of others. Early on in our journey, we met a young woman, age 19, who was an Afghan war widow, named Hope. She and her husband, Riley had been married for only five months when she received the news of his death. This brave woman embodied all of the qualities we found so prevalent among those who supported us throughout our travels; the preacher who served during the Vietnam era who prayed for us every night was another who made such a difference to our experience. Each of these individuals and all of them too brought home one great shining idea: being an American cuts across all ages and ethnicities, all differences a mind can think of; being an American is a transcendent experience and being reminded of this great shining idea was what we found so profoundly rewarding as it came home to us again and again many times along the way.
Now it is time to go back to where we started on April 16 to complete the circle and pay homage to the best allies that we, as Americans, have: the British people, for they too have suffered travesties through these wars.

My pledge to the people that support our cause is to continue to look for new ways to “Give Back To Those Who Serve” until we transform the awareness that we have raised during our Sea2Sea 2012 Cycling Challenge to actions that will make a difference to those who have secured those precious freedoms that we enjoyed at such a very high price.

“The Wave” Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 2

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Volume 1 Issue 2

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE JOURNEY FROM SEA2SEA

Where we have been, where we are and where we are going.

We have been through four states: Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. Here are some of the things we have experienced since our last Newsletter.

Meanwhile as of June 20, the 2012 Sea2Sea Challenge team has ridden through Georgia, South Carolina, and parts of North Carolina en route to Fort Bragg and Camp LeJeune.  More on those next letter.
Patriotism Being Expressed FreelyWe meet ministers who pray for usFlags lining a cemetery on Memorial Day

We witnessed many styles of patriotism as we met so many and traveled dozens back roads of our great country.

On the streets of Nashville during the Country Music Awards, prayers from preachers or lining the path in a cemetery on Memorial Day, love of country is not difficult to find. One of many things we have to be thankful for in America is that patriotism can be freely expressed and as one sees fit.  We ride on two continents in support of those fighting to preserve such freedoms.

One of the daily highlights of the 2012 Sea2Sea Challenge is remembering those who gave their lives in our defense.  It is a defining experience. It is a central part of what our 2012 Sea2Sea Challenge is about.

Some days we have 60+ people attend the Remembrance Ceremony.  On other days, it is just the three of us reading names aloud. We do not miss a day. We do not forget them. Each day, we dedicate our ride to those individuals whose names we read and to their families who the loss of loved ones; loved ones who will never be coming home.

Traveling the Purple Heart Trail going from north to south in Tennessee brought to mind another sign we had passed crossing through Idaho in April. That was early in our journey, nearly at its beginning and nearly 2,500 miles ago! The sign in Idaho memorialized one of their own. A son or brother, a father or husband, he was. These signs presented us reminders along the way that freedom is not free.
Purple Heart TrailIdaho Remembering one of their own who did not return
 The 2012 Sea2sea Challenge began with the ambitious goal of cycling across the US and UK, more than 4,200 miles from April 16 to July 8, 2012.  Its objective is to raise awareness and funds for the needs of our veterans and their families. The goal is to memorialize those who have given their lives in our defense and to raise funds for those with battlefield wounds both physical and mental. (See previous newsletter for the origins of the Sea2Sea Foundation and how Tom von Kaenel came to found and develop this unique organization devoted to American and British military charities.)

By the end of our 77-day journey, a 4200 mile bicycle ride across America and Great Britain, we will have read the names of every soldier killed in action since 9/11.  Those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan are memorialized in our Daily Remembrance Ceremonies and will be remembered again as a combined reading at the end of our ride.

Alvon Elrod has been the lead cyclist for the 2012 Sea2Sea Challenge, provides support, motivation, energy and quite often, comedic relief. Visiting the Sea2Sea Facebook Page or reading Bruce’s Blog, you see quite a few pictures of him standing on his head.  It is a tradition begun long ago and has become a personal brand of Alvon’s throughout the journey across America.
Below is an outline of our scheduled arrival dates and links to Google maps for the rest of the journey. In a short time, we have covered nearly 3700 miles on bicycle and close in on the 4,200 total with each passing day.

Arrival Date Departure Date Map/Proposed Route
Wednesday, June 20 Thursday, June 21 Fayetteville/Fort Bragg, NC
Friday, June 22 Saturday, June 23 Jacksonville/Camp Lejune, NC
Monday, June 25 Tuesday, June 26 Manteo, NC
Wednesday, June 27 Thursday, June 28 Chesapeake, VA
Thursday, June 28 Friday, June 29 Jamestown, VA
Monday, July 2 Tuesday, July 3 Quantico, VA
Tuesday, July 3 Crystal City/Arlington
Wednesday July 4 Washington DC

To learn more about the 2012 Sea2Sea Challenge, visit Sea2Sea.org. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Cycling teams or individual cyclists are invited to join us through any part of our journey from Sea2Sea. If you would like to participate, please contact us via facebook.com/sea2sea1 or by using the contact form on sea2sea.org.  Additional information is available in the next newsletter update.  You can look for it in approximately 10 days.

“The Wave” Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 1

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A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE JOURNEY FROM SEA2SEA

Where we have been, where we are and where we are going.

Home of the Pony Express - Marysville, KSOur riders from Fort Leonard Wood, Ryan, Tracy, Greg, Brad, Larry Jackie, & Tom.At Mount Rushmore where we were joined by other cyclists and we were able to complete our remembrance ceremony.Had a wonderful welcome to Longview, WA by the Disabled Vets of America local branch officials, Richard, Stan, & Jerry.

Looking back from last summer, it seems astonishing that we are now over halfway across the US & are on course to finish our US leg on July 4th. It all started with a medical evacuation flight from Lourdes, France to Landstuhl Regional Military Hospital on September 16, 2009. It has been an awe-inspiring trip and we have had the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life in America. Listening to their stories. Remembering those who gave their lives for us. And rejoicing, being in a country whose many freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices of its soldiers and their families.

Tom on the Evacuation Flight from France to Landstuhl, GermanyChief Sidney Has No Horses, spiritual leader of the Oglala Lakota relating the story of the Wounded Knee Massacre.The mother of a young man killed in Iraq was able to read his name with others that had died from the state of Kansas.  It was hard to hear her give the age of her Son in years, months weeks, days and hours.

Here is our tenative plan for the coming weeks:

  • Jun 7th (Thu) – arrive Fort Campbell, KY – 4 pm
  • Jun 8th (Fri) – arrive Nashville, TN – 1 pm
  • Jun 9th (Sat) – arrive Tullahoma, TN – 3pm
  • Jun 10th (Sun) – REST DAY
  • Jun 10th (Mon)- arrive Chattanooga – 3 pm
  • Jun 11th (Tue) – arrive Ellijay – 2 pm
  • Jun 12th (Wed) – arrive Dahlonega – 12 pm
  • Jun 13th (Thu) – arrive Toccoa – 12 pm
  • Jun 14th (Fri) – arrive Clemson – 12pm

If you wish to join us for any part of the journey or learn more about why we are cycling 4200 miles across the US and UK, please go to Sea2Sea.org you can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Cycling teams or individual cyclists are invited to join us through any part of our journey from Sea2Sea. If you would like to participate, please contact us via facebook.com/sea2sea1 or by using the contact form on sea2sea.org

More information will be coming out on our next newsletter shortly.