Memorial Day bike ride honors fallen Tuskegee Airmen

Memorial Day bike ride honors fallen Tuskegee Airmen
Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 9:06 AM CDT
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TUSKEGEE, Ala. (WSFA) - A memorial bike ride was held at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field on Memorial Day to honor fallen Tuskegee Airmen.

The approximately 8-mile ride stretched from the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site to Tuskegee Lake and back.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the country’s first Black military pilots who played a major role in the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces.

“All 992 of the Tuskegee Airmen pilots would have made their way right through these historic grounds,” said Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site parker ranger Chad Hoing. “This is where they had primary flight training and learned really how to fly the way that the Army needed them to fly before they were deployed in World War II.”

Despite racism, segregation and doubts over their abilities, the Tuskegee Airmen went on to fly missions during World War II, missions that helped the U.S. win the war.

“Out of those 992 pilots, we had 66 Tuskegee Airmen who lost their lives overseas defending their country, and when they returned home, they still fought for that double victory, that victory here at home for equal rights,” Hoing said.

One of the cyclists who took part in the memorial bike ride currently serves active duty in the U.S. Air Force.

“I’ve actually had the pleasure of actually speaking with some of the original Tuskegee Airmen,” said cyclist Ian Kemp.

“The ability to come out on a Memorial Day and remember the lives that were sacrificed by those to give us the freedoms that we enjoy is incredible, and the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is something that I think warms the heart of every American,” Kemp went on to say.

The entire event lasted about two hours. The ride ended with a flag lowering ceremony that took place in the parking lot overlooking the historic site.

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, was authorized by Congress in 1998. It was established to commemorate the struggle and triumph of the Tuskegee Airmen at Moton Field, site of the primary African American flight training facility during World War II, and their contributions to the integration of the U.S. military and subsequent civil rights advancements.

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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