After the conclusion of the very successful Pledge of NEVER AGAIN on Parliament Hill, and the embarrassment at CFB Trenton, because of the lack of participation of the Jewish Riders, SPECIFICALLY because of the dreadful behavior of “YOU KNOW WHO”, I finally took a deep breath in the knowledge, that for me, my obligations were almost done.
My jobs from here-on-in were to relax with Anne and Stryker who joined me at Parliament Hill by car, continuing on to CFB Trenton where we spent a couple of nights together, where I hosted an on-base Bar-B-Q for the M25 Riders and anyone else who wished to attend, and let the worries of organizing to Lou DeVuono of the Heroes Highway Ride, and to Major (retired) Greg Shepherd of the National Memorial Ride.
My two remaining obligations, which were not obligations at all, but great pleasures and honors, were speaking at the HHR in Toronto on Saturday, and laying a Wreath on Sunday near Ottawa as part of the National Memorial Ride, culminating at Canada’s National Military Cemetery.
THE ROAR OF 3000 BIKES:
We saddled-up in the morning on Saturday June 2, 2012 . . . amongst 3000 Riders at CFB Trenton, where speeches were made, people greeted friends and made new friends, all in preparation for the hour plus police escorted ride from CFB Trenton to the Toronto Downtown Harbor Front, following the Highway of Heroes Route taken by the funeral corteges of Canada’s Fallen Heroes, who lost their lives in Afghanistan, fighting for the FREEDOM of others.
Riding along this sacred route was more than just sitting on a bike paying tribute, it was a an experience like non other, especially when we came to the first of many dozens of overpasses, where people stood with signs and Canadian flags cheering us on, as we rode in honor of Canada’s Fallen Heroes . . . in their memory.
I wept as we traveled under the first overpass, as I held up my arm in recognition of the people above, and for the Fallen Heroes for whom we rode. It was an incredible moment of personal Canadian pride, thinking of Canada’s Heroes, and Heroes EVERYWHERE who fight and die for FREEDOM.
As these thoughts streamed through my mind, with Gary Burd of the American Christian M25 Riders, riding at my side, with his Riders in formation with us, I experienced an incredible feeling of pride to be riding with these Americans.
All in all, I never anticipated such emotions in a Ride that I expected to be special, mostly in the scope of size, but never because of such pride and gratitude.
AN UNEXPECTED AND CHOKED-UP HONOR:
Once in Toronto, and off our Bikes, the happy ceremonies began at the Harbor Front, where there was food, beverages, music, and great speeches and presentations.
Some of Canada’s surviving World War II veterans were honored with Silver Jubilee Medals, in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s 60 year reign, including a survivor of perhaps the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the joint US/Canadian Commando Force known as the DEVIL’S BRIGADE, immortalized on the Silver Screen.
Two Mothers who lost their sons in combat in Afghanistan were also honored for their courage, sacrifice and loss.
The Commemorations and Honors were nothing short of spectacular and humble in terms of meaning and dignity, with no one wasting words in long-winded speeches.
When I was called upon to speak, my words were simple and succinct:
“There isn’t a day that I wake-up when I am not proud to be a Canadian. There isn’t a day in my life that I am not proud of Canada. And there isn’t a day that passes when I am not proud of our men and women who so proudly serve in the fight for the FREEDOMS of others . . . God Bless Canada.”
In a previous segment of this story, I wrote about Trapper Cane of The CAV (Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Unit), who is a living Legend amongst Canada’s Military, who wherever he goes, by foot or by Bike, lights the way or lights the room.
Just about when all the presentations were done, and the honors handed out, I was astonished when Trapper took to the stage and called my name. I was told to be standing near the stage at the end of the ceremonies, expecting that I amongst others would be acknowledged for our participation in so many of the events that were separate from, but part of this incredible week.
But I never expected to be called-up. And when I took to the stage, here was Trapper Cane, standing with a beautiful Plaque dedicated to me with these words:
HOWARD GALGANOV WITH GREAT RESPECT
The Plaque depicts a World War II soldier mounted on his Motorcycle Charging upwards as if on a rearing War Horse.
I said very little when I accepted this great honor, because had I begun to speak, I would have started to cry without end, since receiving this Plaque from such an incredible individual and an august group as The CAV, was the first real recognition I received for my efforts of more than half a year.
BUT IT WAS FAR MORE THAN THAT:
What The CAV and Trapper Cane could not have known, was that my Father was a 100% honest-to-goodness Canadian World War II Hero, who was regularly decorated and acknowledged for Bravery Above And Beyond The Call Of Duty.
At my Dad’s Funeral some eighteen years ago . . . as he laid in his Flag Draped Coffin in a standing-room only hall, since every seat was taken, the Rabbi, at my instruction read from a history book a single paragraph of many paragraphs written about my dad, who single handedly took out an enemy Pill Box that was ripping his fellow soldiers apart.
He did it with nothing more than courage, determination, and a Call to Duty . . . with his Bren Gun and Hand Grenades.
He did more than that throughout the War, which he fought from the very beginning, but more than anything, that single act of HEROISM defined my dad and what our troops were made of then and now.
What made things even more emotional for me when seeing the Plaque, was the illustration of the Motorcycle Soldier Mounted atop what represented a rearing War Horse, since there was no single military job in World War II that was more dangerous than being a DISPATCH RIDER, which was what my Dad was, always Riding behind the lines, and along the lines, before the troops made their way to the FRONT.
To me, as I stood on that stage fighting back a torrent of tears, what I saw was my Dad reaching from beyond to tell me how proud he was. What else could it have been?
PAYING TRIBUTE TO ALL OF CANADA’S FALLEN HEROES:
From the HHR in Toronto, a group of us from the M25 and the HHR rode 4 hours to Ottawa to pay Tribute to Canada’s Fallen War Heroes, who fought in the name of Canada and FREEDOM from the very beginning of our country (July 1, 1867).
I was invited by the organizer of this last Motorcycle Event (Major Greg Shepherd), along with Gary Burd, to lay a Wreath at the Memorial gracing Canada’s Military Cemetery located just East of Ottawa.
I was asked to lay this Wreath in the name of Jewish Bikers, while Pastor Gary Burd was asked to do so in the name of American Bikers. So together, Gary Burd and I were handed the Wreath by Heroes Highway Rider Graeme Hume; and then, Gary Burd and I walked a few steps to the Memorial Monument, where with great reverence, we laid the beautiful Wreath.
I have no idea what was going through the mind of Gary Burd as he laid the Wreath, other than pride. But to me, this was the final act of reverence for an extraordinary week, where in conclusion, I actually did something remarkable, not just in memory of all of Canada’s Military, but with a personal emphasis on the memory of my HEROIC Dad.
BUT IT DIDN’T STOP THERE:
During the solemn ceremonies honoring Canada’s Military at the National Military Cemetery, we all stood waiting for the rain to begin to fall, but as ominous as the sky was, it didn’t, at least not until we left.
Ottawa is about an hour and a quarter from where Anne and I live. But it is days of hard riding for Gary Burd and his beautiful wife Carolyn who decided to make their long way back to Texas as part of a vacation, just the two of them on their Harley.
So, before parting company, we decided to have an early supper together in Ottawa, just off the 417, where I would head East, while they headed West. And during that meal it became obvious that this week of hyper-activity had paid off in ways that I could never have imagined.
As you can remember from reading the initial installments of this story, my interest in all of this was to arrange for an unprecedented coming together of Christian and Jewish Bikers from across North America, where together, in an incredible setting on Parliament Hill in Canada’s Capital, we would all take a Pledge of NEVER AGAIN to a Second Holocaust, coupled to our mutual support for Israel, and the RIGHT for Jews to live in FREEDOM and security everywhere.
THE END OF A GREAT CAUSE?
Even though this event was a fabulous success, there was a sort of emptiness when it ended, because it was over. But, the THREAT to Israel was not over . . . nor will it ever be over. And neither will the constant Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of Jews throughout the world will ever be over.
SHOULD IT BE OVER?
To my utter amazement, even before the Pledge of NEVER AGAIN was held, Gary Burd and one of Canada’s Pentecostal Bishops, who hailed from British Columbia, who attended the event suggested that this NEVER AGAIN Pledge should become an annual event.
And even before we stepped down from Parliament Hill after the Pledge, before getting on our Bikes, Lou DeVuono of the Heroes Highway Ride wanted to know what we were going to be doing to make this Pledge of NEVER AGAIN an annual event. For which I had no answer.
AND THEN IT CAME TOGETHER . . . Gary Burd asked me what I thought of having a Pledge of NEVER AGAIN incorporated as an annual event in the annual North American gatherings of Pentecostals, to which I thought would be great if it was doable.
His next words to me were: It’s kind of late to include this kind of event into the coming 2013 Gathering in Dallas Texas, since that agenda has been long done, but, who knows?
And by the time Gary, Carolyn, and I sat down to our early supper in Ottawa, before we said our goodbyes, it was made official . . .
THERE WILL BE A PLEDGE OF NEVER AGAIN IN DALLAS TEXAS.
So, from all of the acrimony caused by a handful of JMA (Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance) Riders who opposed Christian participation in the R2R (Ride to Remember), to the jerks at the Toronto organizing committee who didn’t have the decency to exhibit gratitude, nor the ability to honor their commitments – came the GREATEST Reward.
As a result of a series of unrelated events, came an annual commitment to Israel and Jews everywhere, that wherever the Pentecostals gather, a Pledge of NEVER AGAIN will be part of their agenda, to which Jewish and Christian Riders will assemble every year for as many years that I can imagine.
THE JOURNEY IS ON:
We are so pumped over this commitment . . . that Lou DeVuono of the Heroes Highway Riders has already mapped-out the route to Dallas. And that we already have Jewish and Christian Riders from Canada and the USA who have committed themselves to making the trip.
PLEDGE RIDERS DOT COM:
Not to waste a moment’s time, I’ve reserved PledgeRiders.Com and NeverAgainRiders.Com to become the Standard Bearers for all of these Rides.
Our incredible artist is in the process of creating our Web Site and Logo, which we hope will become symbolic of an event that will grow in name, stature and participation.
And plans for special accommodations such as discounted hotel rooms for all Pledge Riders including meals wherever possible for the trip to Dallas are in the process of being made.
We have even arranged for at least one chase vehicle with a flatbed trailer in tow in case of breakdowns.
On July 21, 2013, we will meet in Oklahoma City, where Gary Burd and the M25 are planning special events and celebrations. And from Oklahoma City, we will ride to Dallas in the morning of July 22, 2013, where we will take the Pledge of NEVER AGAIN in what will certainly be an Historical moment.
I wrote throughout this series of stories, that in spite of the work, aggravation and stress, and in spite of the broken promises and the insults caused by very little people from the Toronto organizing committee, all of my efforts were very much worth it. AND NOW YOU KNOW WHY.
Hopefully . . . I will see many people in Dallas Texas next July, where together, we can stand as one in our Pledge of NEVER AGAIN.
Before I end this – I need to thank . . . not in any special order, all the people who played an important roll in making all of this happen:
1 – Gary and Carolyn Burd.
2 – All the M25 Riders.
3 – Lou DeVuono of the Heroes Highway Ride.
4 – Graeme Hume of the Heroes Highway Ride.
5 – Major (retired) Greg Shepherd of the National Memorial Ride.
6 – Trapper Cane of The CAV (Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Unit).
7 – Renee Charbonneau (Drive Belt Betty) who chronicled this entire adventure.
8 – Joyce Kaufman of WFTL Radio (Florida) who was a gamer like none other.
9 – All the people from CFB Trenton who bent over backwards to be accommodating.
10 – MP Peter Goldring for securing the Honor and Color Guards, and MP David Sweet.
11 – All the Riders who met in the Pocono’s to make the Ride into Canada together.
12 – The Ottawa and Toronto Police and Public Sector who’s help was enormous.
13 – The manager and staff of the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in Markham (Toronto).
14 – The management of the Best Western (Kingston) Fireside Hotel.
15 – The Ottawa Jewel Radio Station for their incredible support.
16 – The Ottawa SUN Newspaper for their incredible support.
17 – The Montreal Suburban Newspaper for their incredible support and coverage.
And MOST of all, it would be criminal for me not to pay a special tribute to my beautiful wife Anne who was there for me, just as she has always been there for me for the past 40 years.
I hope you had as much pleasure in reading this story as I had in writing it. And I look forward to writing about the next Pledge to NEVER AGAIN in just about a year from now.
Best Regards . . . Howard Galganov