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‘It becomes a passion’

Legacy Run comes through town on way to national event

 

After the rumble of hundreds of motorcycles quieted came the voice of a single trumpet in Graceland Cemetery Tuesday afternoon as riders recognized a local veteran who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The American Legion Legacy Run brought over 400 motorcycle riders from all over the country through Albert Lea to participate in a five-day ride that started in Kansas and will end outside of Minneapolis for the 100th anniversary of the American Legion’s national convention.

American Legion Riders stop at Albert Lea’s Leo Carey American Legion Post 56 Tuesday during the national Legacy Run. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Wes Halverson — local coordinator, Albert Lea’s American Legion Riders member and past Legion commander — said riders traveled up from Spirit Lake Tuesday and were met in Emmons by the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office. Riders then drove to Graceland Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of Corey Goodnature. Goodnature was killed while performing a rescue mission in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005.

Riders arrived at the cemetery close to 12:30 p.m. and surrounded the area of the cemetery in which Corey Goodnature is buried. An American Legion chaplain led a prayer, and Corey Goodnature’s family, including parents Don and Deb Goodnature, placed a wreath at his grave. The honor guard fired three volleys, and a rider played taps.

The honor guard fires volley fire Tuesday at Graceland Cemetery during a ceremony honoring Corey Goodnature. American Legion Riders made a point of stopping to honor Goodnature — who was killed while performing a rescue mission in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005 — while on the national Legacy Run. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

“Thank you all for coming,” Don Goodnature said to the gathered riders. “It’s a great honor for you to show up here.”

Riders Rob Phelps and Steven Walker attended the ceremony after traveling from Post 325 in Danville, Virginia, to join the ride in Kansas, although they had to split off to service Phelps’ motorcycle. They rejoined the riders in Albert Lea at the cemetery.

Phelps said he has participated in the Legacy Run since 2009. He remembered riding through Albert Lea in 2010 on their way to the national convention in Milwaukee. He remembers a large flag — like the one dangling from a fire truck crane on Broadway Avenue and Fountain Street Tuesday — stretched out to welcome riders.

A veteran salutes as the honor guard returns colors to American Legion Leo Carey Post 56 Tuesday during the Legacy Run’s stop in Albert Lea. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

“It becomes a passion,” he said of the American Legion Legacy Run. “We do it for the kids, but we do it for our brothers and sisters, our fallen brothers and sisters. These kids have paid a terrible price in losing their parents, so it’s the least we can do to try to provide something.”

After the ceremony, riders met at American Legion Post 56 in Albert Lea for a short ceremony and lunch.

Albert Lea residents Bill and Marilyn Danielsen attended the ceremony and were there to see riders pull onto Broadway Avenue, filling the street with eight- to 10-bike rows.

“This is bringing some recognition, I think, to servicemen, and I think that’s needed,” Bill Danielsen said.

An American Legion Rider leaves a memento on Corey Goodnature’s headstone to honor the fallen soldier Tuesday at Graceland Cemetery. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

According to Deb Goodnature, who addressed riders at the Legion ceremony, it’s also a welcome recognition of the life of her son.

“When we lost Corey, our biggest fear is that he would be forgotten,” she said.

She thanked riders for remembering the country’s fallen soldiers.

Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. read a proclamation to express appreciation for the riders and the importance of showing gratitude to service members who died as well as assisting their families. He proclaimed Aug. 21 American Legion Legacy Run Day.

The honor guard lines up prior to a ceremony honoring Corey Goodnature Tuesday at Graceland Cemetery. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

The Legacy Run raises money for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship, a need-based scholarship open to children of fallen post-9/11 servicemembers and children of post-9/11 veterans assigned a disability rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs of 50 percent or greater. Since the scholarship’s inception in 2002, over $13 million has been raised for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship.

According to Halverson, Albert Lea’s American Legion Riders already raised and donated $2,000 for the Legacy Scholarship before the ride.

After lunch, riders made the trip to Austin. The riders are making their way to the ride’s final destination, Anoka, via Austin, Rochester and Onalaska, Wisconsin.

Halverson said this year’s Legacy Run goal is for riders to raise $1.5 million. They earn money through donations collected during ride stops.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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