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'For the fallen': Motorcyclists ride through Milwaukee after Memorial Day parade canceled

’For the fallen’: Motorcyclists ride through Milwaukee after Memorial Day parade canceled

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- This year would have marked Milwaukee's 155th annual Memorial Day parade. But after it was canceled, motorcyclists in the area decided they still wanted to find a way to honor and mourn those who've served.

"Unlike Veteran's Day where you honor the living, (on) Memorial Day, you honor the dead. And unfortunately, a lot of our younger generation does not know that," said Daniel Davis with Milwaukee's Harley Owners Group -- or HOG -- chapter.

And as a veteran himself, Davis knows the importance of acknowledging that sacrifice. He was in the U.S. Air Force and the Navy.

"The group of bikers that we hang around with are very veteran friendly, military friendly. A lot of our members are ex-military. This is a big deal for a lot of them," said the chapter's director, Jerry DeGroot.

The Milwaukee HOG chapter has led the city's Memorial Day parade for the last 15 years.

"With it being canceled, some of our chapter members came and said, 'Hey, let's do something,'" DeGroot said. "We just want to do it for the fallen. We didn't want to forget them just because of the COVID-19 thing."

They decided to hold a short ride Sunday morning, starting at the State Fair Park & Ride in West Allis and ending near the War Memorial. Social distancing was encouraged.

DeGroot and Davis spread the word on Facebook and said it "snowballed" from there. About 120 motorcycles ended up taking part in the ride, more than double the amount of motorcycles that typically would be in the Memorial Day parade.

They showed up not just for the freedom to ride, but also to represent the freedoms they've been given by those who've died in combat.

"If they didn't do that, it would be a whole different country and we wouldn't be able to do this (ride)," Davis said.

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