A father’s love is undying, but his body is not. This veteran and fellow motorcycle enthusiast, whose health is failing due to prostate cancer, was given one last ride by his loving daughter.
1. Freedom to Ride
There’s no other feeling of independence and freedom as the one you get from riding a motorcycle. Just you and your machine, both fists gripping the bars and punching the wind in defiant protest of being held down by the physical and mental restraints of daily living. But, while you’re squeezing the clutch and twisting the throttle, do you ever contemplate how that freedom was gained? Freedom doesn’t come free, after all. It has to be earned, fought for, and paid for in blood. Our veterans pay that price for us so that we can enjoy the freedom of the open roads of our beautiful country. Veterans like George Werber.
2. George Werber, U.S. Army
George Werber graduated high school in 1948, two years after meeting the lovely Audrey, the woman who would later become his best friend and partner in life. George’s only transportation back then was an Indian Chief motorcycle. George worked for a year after high school, buzzing all around on that Chief, taking Audrey to the movies on it, even riding it to the top of Pike’s Peak. in 1949, George enlisted in the U.S. Army and by 1950, he married his sweet Audrey. Shortly after their holy union, George found himself, knee deep, in the Korean War. George served honorably, from the amphibious landing at Inchon, until the armistice was signed in 1953. During the conflict, often referred to as “the Forgotten War,”over 40,000 US troops were killed and over 100,000 were injured– a staggering death toll for a, relatively short, 3-year war. It’s no wonder so many of our troops returned home and found the love of motorcycles, and instilled that love in their children.
3. 70 years together
Peggy’s parents, George and Audrey, met over 70 years ago. As high school sweethearts, their love, which predates McDonald’s, The Tonight Show, and Disneyland, could not be stifled by war, a presidential assassination or even a “British Invasion.” It couldn’t even be overshadowed by a man walking on the moon, but the mind and body are fragile and sadly, both George and his beloved wife were not immune to this.
4. Peggy Martin
Peggy Martin learned to ride motorcycles at the age of 12 because of her dad. George, an honorably discharged United States Army Sergeant, Korean War veteran, and motorcycle enthusiast, rode his Indian Chief motorcycle almost everywhere in his youth. Always her father’s daughter, Peggy customized her Harley-Davidson Deluxe in an effort to help bring awareness to the epidemic of breast cancer. She won numerous awards for her efforts, as can be seen here, with a Best of Show trophy.
5. But, this isn’t a sad story
In motorcycling, there is hope, renewal, and rebirth. There is an excitement of the senses when you explore a world often taken for granted while carrying out our daily routines. Peggy Martin knew this because her dad George Werber taught it to her. You see, when George was a younger man, he loved to ride, to feel the sensation of being on a bike. As Jay Allen said in the documentary film, Why We Ride, “some people have it inside, it’s a seed and if you ever put the water on it and you feel the sensation, the seed has sprouted and it doesn’t die until the day you take your last breath.” That seed grew in Peggy Martin’s soul, just as it had grown in her father’s so many years before. Peggy knew that it was still alive inside of her dad when she caught him looking longingly at her motorcycle. It was at that moment when she decided that, in spite of her dad’s cancer, she was going to get him back in the saddle.
6. Enter, the Alliance, The Forged Alliance
Peggy reached out to some local riders and told them what she was planning to do. Then she went to a local Harley-Davidson dealer and rented a brand new Tri-Glide. Once word got out what Peggy was doing for her terminally ill, Army Vet dad, the event took on a life of its own. The Southern New Hampshire chapter of Forged Alliance Riding Club set up a ride, complete with police escort and over a dozen bikes.
On the day of the ride, a thunderous procession of motorcycles came rolling into the quiet suburban neighborhood. As the neighbors filled the street, George had no idea that his daughter had set all of this up for him. When the bikers lined up to shake his hands and thank him for his service, tears filled the old man’s eyes. And, just to make things official, Forged Alliance chapter President Tom Roy presented George with his very own cut, complete with the Forged Alliance colors, and tabs representing George’s service in the Korean War while in the United States Army.
7. Suited up and ready to roll
Once George was suited up in his fresh new leather, several folks worked together and gently placed his fragile body on the seat of the Tri-Glide, then, with much fanfare, the procession began. With the police leading the leather-clad pack with lights and sirens, the local media snapping photographs and the neighbors looking on, waving American flags. The 87-year-old Vet was back in the saddle, wind in his face and feeling the excitement of riding, once again!
8. Riding to live
While the ride may have lasted less than a half hour, the memories from this ride will last forever. Peggy in her Motor Maids colors, George in his new Forged Alliance colors, both steely-eyed and fists in the wind again–freedom, liberty, and the American dream, a father-daughter ride like no other.
9. “You did it!”
Peggy knew that this ride would be the last one her dad could take before he went to meet his sweet Audrey, so she wanted to make it extra special. And that she did. During the ride, she heard her dad saying, “Wow! Oh my! Fantastic! This feels just like when I was 20 years old, riding my Indian motorcycle! Wow, wow, wow!” As they pulled into the destination, Peggy leaned back and embraced her dad, saying “You did it!” The excitement of that moment is clear in this photo.
If that’s not enough, later that night during dinner, George told his only daughter, “next to marrying your mom, this was the best day of my whole life.”
That’s just about the best gift that any kid can give their parents.