Biden Kicks off Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride
By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, April 28, 2010 - "Riders ready?" Vice President Joe Biden asked wounded warriors this morning before sounding the air horn that kicked off the fourth annual "White House to Light House" Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride.
Twenty-eight wounded warriors got a vice presidential sendoff at the White House south lawn today as they launched a three-day bicycle and wheelchair ride to show the world and themselves what they're still capable of accomplishing.
Joined by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and National Security Advisor James L. Jones Jr., the vice president told the participants they define what America represents.
"Your losses to most Americans are incomprehensible, but what's even more, more unfathomable to Americans, is your courage," he said. "You have no idea, I expect, what an inspiration you are to all Americans."
Calling the wounded warriors "the heart and the soul and the spine" of the United States, he said they set an example for others to emulate.
"You not only let us know what we should be, you're showing us that we can be anything we want to be," Biden said. "And for that, I thank you on behalf of my children and my grandchildren and all Americans."
Almost 600 active-duty servicemembers, along with the wounded warriors' families and caregivers, crowded the White House lawn to cheer on the participants as they set out on their ride. They erupted in cheers after the vice president sounded the air horn to kick off the ride, the cyclists whizzed by him, waving as they made a loop around the asphalt trail that rings the south lawn.
"As you circle this lawn and ride out of the White House gate, know that we will be cheering for you every mile of your journey," Jill Biden told the riders. "Thank you for your service, your courage and for your sacrifices for our country. Thank you on behalf of a grateful nation."
After leaving the White House, the riders will make stops at the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, followed by a reception at the U.S. Capitol. Tomorrow, the riders will visit Baltimore's Inner Harbor and see an Orioles baseball game at Camden Yards. The final day of the ride, they will visit Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington in Maryland, then historic downtown Annapolis and the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy.
Chris Roberts, director of the Soldier Ride, said riders get excited about the reception they receive in the nation's capital and Maryland. "It is also particularly meaningful for them to ride past areas of historical significance to the country while drawing attention to the needs of the greatest patriots of this generation," he said.
Soldier Ride is a program of the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides key rehabilitation opportunities for wounded warriors and raises public awareness for those who have been severely injured during the current conflicts.
All participants with a disability or missing a limb or limbs are provided the adaptive equipment customized to their individual needs.