By Deb Gau
MARSHALL - It was a good day for a ride, they said. But it wasn't just the prospect of a road trip that brought together hundreds of motorcyclists, as they rumbled into Marshall on Saturday morning. It was the memories of three people: Sgt. Jesse Lhotka, First Lt. Jason Timmerman and Staff Sgt. David Day.
Photo by Deb Gau
A long column of motorcycles drove down West College Drive on Saturday as part of the L.T.D. Motorcycle Memorial Tour. The ride remembers National Guardsmen Jesse Lhotka, Jason Timmerman, and David Day.
"I just feel Jason is right here with us," said Pat Timmerman, Jason Timmerman's mother. She was one of the people gathered to greet the L.T.D. Motorcycle Memorial Tour as it passed through Marshall.
On Saturday, the L.T.D. Memorial Tour made its 9th annual journey in honor of Lhotka, Timmerman and Day, three Minnesota servicemen who died in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2005.
Besides honoring the three soldiers' memories, the Memorial Tour raises money for scholarships and events like the Disabled Veterans Deer Hunt held at Camp Ripley.
A long column of motorcycles came down College Drive and made a short stop near the Marshall National Guard Armory. They were welcomed by local residents waving American flags, as well as by area Boy Scouts.
The L.T.D. Tour has brought together some participants and spectators every year, although new people are always joining, riders said. The L.T.D. Tour began in Appleton on Saturday and followed a circular route passing through towns including Montevideo, Clarkfield, Marshall, Canby, Madison, Ortonville and Morris. Often the tour will pick up more riders during the course of the day, motorcyclists said.
"We usually plan on being here," said MacKenzie Weller. Weller, her husband Matt Weller, and their family had ridden their bicycles out to West College Drive to see the motorcycles go by. "We both knew Jesse Lhotka."
"I think it's a very cool gesture," and a good way to remember Lhotka, Timmerman and Day, said Matt Weller.
Community connections were what brought many of the riders together. Don and Phyllis Werk of Morris said they were a part of the L.T.D. Tour partly because they knew David Day's family. Don Werk is also a member of the Patriot Guard Riders.
"It's an honor" to be part of the Tour, Don Werk said.
"I think it's very nice of them, that people remember," said Isaac Timmerman, a local Scout who stood at attention holding a full-sized American flag while the L.T.D. Tour came into town. Isaac said he liked volunteering at the L.T.D. Tour, both as a way to remember Jason Timmerman, who was his second cousin, and to be there for members of their family.
Pat Timmerman was among the people cheering for the riders on Saturday. In years past, she said she's also gone along on the Tour.
"Emotionally, it's overwhelming," Timmerman said of the experience. But seeing the Tour every year meant a lot.
"Faith, family and friends are what get us through," she said. "And not a day goes by that I don't pray for the troops."