CONYERS — The Patriot Tour, a 110-day journey that transports one American flag 14,500 miles through all 48 continental states via a city-to-city motorcycle relay, made a stop in Conyers on Monday. The flag was passed from a group of riders from Columbia, S.C., including a 96-year-old World War II veteran, to a group from Conyers at Falcons Fury Harley-Davidson. They transported the flag Tuesday to Greenville, S.C.

Bernie Shankman of Columbia, S.C., began riding motorcycles in 1939 when he was 16 years old. World War II interrupted, and Shankman served in the Pacific Ocean theater, was part of the Occupation Forces in Japan after its surrender, and also served in the Korean War. When he got home, Shankman began riding again and has been riding for 80 years.

Monday he led the group from South Carolina into Conyers on a trike with an American flag flying from the back. He said he was a member of the local Harley group when the tour began in 2009 and today he is the flag bearer.

“I enjoyed the ride today,” he said. “It was great and the weather was perfect. We were happy that it didn’t rain on us.”

The Patriot Tour, presented by the Nation of Patriots, is a united effort that raises funds to support disabled veterans and their families and is the primary initiative through which the Nation of Patriots strives to unite Americans beneath the nation’s flag and honor the men and women who defend American freedom.

The Nation of Patriots was founded in 2009 by Bill Sherer in Milwaukee, Wisc. after witnessing the hardships his friends endured upon returning home from active duty. Nation of Patriots is a 501(c)3 organization that works on a national level to promote awareness of and financially support the physical, emotional and economic misfortune that disabled veterans and their families live with today and every day. It is 100% volunteer operated and gives 100% of all donations directly to veterans in need.

The 10th annual Patriot Tour began in Beaver Dam, Wisc. on Armed Forces Day, May 18, and has traveled through the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, West, Southwest, South and Southeast before arriving in Georgia.

Reginald G. Brewer, a retired Army Captain who is director of the Falcons Fury Hog Chapter and Custom Experience Manager, will be leading the group from Conyers to Greenville, SC.

“It is an honor,” he said. “I was really honored to know that I’d be leading it this year. I always thought it was a good event and raising awareness.”

Bill Ayers, the Chaplain for the Falcons Fury Hog Chapter, said 25 riders from Columbia, S.C., said the tour not only supports veterans in need in the United States, but sends a message to military personnel overseas that they are not forgotten.

“After the tour ends, the flag is retired,” he said, “and it and a banner signed by everyone who participates is sent over to the active soldiers in either Iraq or Afghanistan, wherever they are serving at the time.”

The Patriot Tour ends back in Beaver Dam, Wisc. on Sept. 7 with a motorcycle parade and a closing ceremony during which the flag will be retired.

The Patriot Tour has raised nearly $1 million since it started 10 years ago. As an all-volunteer organization, with administrative costs covered by corporate sponsors, Nation of Patriots ensures that 100% of funds raised go directly to the veterans it strives to help. The organization works with Veterans Administration facilities and other veteran organizations to identify the recipients of its funds.

Donations can be made online at nationofpatriots.org or by U.S. Mail to: Nation of Patriots, P.O. Box 73, Sussex, Wisconsin 53089.

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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