CLEVELAND, N.C. — The seventh annual Ride of Pride, which honors veterans, prisoners of war and those missing in action, will travel from Freightliner’s truck manufacturing plant here to Washington, D.C., over Memorial Day weekend.
On May 25, the group will join a procession through the capital with nearly 1 million motorcyclists participating in the Ride for Freedom, which is sponsored by Rolling Thunder, a national non-profit organization dedicated to publicizing POW-MIA issues.
Earlier this month, this year's Ride of Pride truck, a customized Freightliner Cascadia, visited Thomas Built Buses and other Daimler plants in North and South Carolina, collecting donations for veterans from employees.
Over the weekend, volunteers will visit Washington Hospital Center to host a party for veterans and hand out the donated items.
Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates.
This year's Ride of Pride truck features a new DD15 455-560 horsepower engine from Detroit Diesel and a variety of upgrades and accessories, from seats to mud flaps, donated by Freightliner suppliers. The cab is decorated with an American flag, a bald eagle, the POW-MIA emblem and symbols from each military division.
Ed Keeter, shift manager at Freightliner’s Cleveland plant and a veteran of the Vietnam War, said the idea for the ride came in 2001, when he and other employees were looking for a way to honor veterans.
“At the plant, we had a number of reservists who were being called up for active service, so we wanted to support them and other vets past and present,” Keeter said.
Employees at the plant volunteer their time for the Ride of Pride, designing the artwork and coordinating the 400-mile trip.