Salute To Armed Forces This Weekend

May 18, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. - This Saturday Central Kentucky is revved up for the largest Armed Forces Day celebration in the state.  The holiday is meant to honor current and former members of the U.S. military.

Armed Forces Day traces its roots back to 1949, with the establishment of the Department of Defense.  Prior to that time, the services were split between their two departments, Army and Navy (Air Force was split equally among the services).  To promote this unity of services, it was declared that the third Saturday in May of each year would be Armed Forces Day, a chance for civilians to recognize men and women in uniform.

Tom Baker of the Bluegrass Military Affairs Coalition says that current celebrations are especially important.  He notes that America has been at war for ten years, yet people generally  don’t know many members of the armed forces.  The event will be an opportunity for locals to get acquainted with active duty and veteran personnel and “thank them for their service.” 

Saturday’s events begin with a motorcycle “poker run” through Lexington horse country.  Participants start with a single playing card and will assemble a full hand as they make stops in several small towns, finishing at Northeast Christian Church (990 Star Shoot Parkway).  The motorcyclist with the best poker hand will win a jackpot of approximately $300.  Registration begins at 10:00 AM at the Harley-Davidson store on 2073 Bryant Road and the ride itself starts at noon.  Admission is $15 per single rider and $20 per double rider.  Proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Wounded Warrior project.

At the end of the ride, Northeast Christian Church will host a Family Fun Fair beginning at 3pm.  In addition to family entertainment, the fair will also host a variety of military displays, including restored military vehicles and the crew of the USS Ashland, a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship.  The event is free and open to the public. 

Concluding the day at 6:00 p.m. is the Community Salute to Troops Awards in Northeast Christian Church.  Local units will receive BMAC Outstanding Service Awards, and there will be a variety of special guests, including Rear Admiral John Welch of the United States Coast Guard.