Motorcyclists to Show Patriotism at Armed Forces Day Ride: Fallen Soldiers March Poker and Bug Run Set for May 19

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Fallen Soldiers March will host a Poker and Bug Run for motorcyclists on Armed Forces Day, May 19. Fallen Soldiers March, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, organizes marches and other events to inspire patriotism and raise funds for service dogs for veterans. The 100-mile route includes five stops in Middle Tennessee, concluding at the National Guard Armory in Lebanon.

Middle Tennessee motorcyclists will commemorate Armed Forces Day May 19, riding 100 miles in a Poker and Bug Run to benefit Fallen Soldiers March The ride, with stops in Nashville, Old Hickory, Madison, Castalian Springs and Lebanon, begins at 11 a.m. and takes 3½ to 4½ hours to complete. Registration starts at 9 a.m. at each site or may be completed online at To qualify for prizes, riders must complete the course and be present at the National Guard Armory in Lebanon at 3:45 p.m.

“We are excited to see the patriotism these cyclists are exhibiting and the support they’re raising for the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms,” said Jim Retzke, president of Fallen Soldiers March.

The poker and bug run traces its inspiration to another trek that was made, albeit on foot. In 2005, a year after he returned from deployment to Iraq, Master Sgt. Jim Williams felt compelled to make a nine-mile march from Lebanon to the Wilson County Fair Grounds in memory of nine Tennessee Guard soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Terror.

“The first march was just me, a flag and a pack,” said Williams. “The next year we quadrupled in size,” he jokes. “There were four of us.”

By the following year, the march had more than 100 participants. Soon an army of volunteers fell into step.

Retzke first signed on in 2009 for a 30-mile Veterans Day march from Lebanon to Nashville’s Legislative Plaza.

“I had been raised to love, respect and value our military men and women and the sacrifices made by the Founding Fathers of our country, but I was not prepared for the range of emotions God had in store for me as I marched alongside Master Sgt. Williams for 12 hours that day,” said Retzke.

“I fought back tears, realizing the resolve our soldiers exhibit, marching all night through jungles, deserts or mountainous terrain—sometimes burdened with 70 pound packs—arriving at their destination, not to rest, but to meet the enemy in combat. I was humbled.”

Encouragement encountered along the first marches motivated organizers to take the event to the next level, turning the march into a movement.

“When people see us marching, they honk their horns, wave, salute, cheer. Sometimes cars pull over to the side of the road to show respect. Once a mother had each of her children get out of the car and shake hands with us,” said Williams. “Gestures like that mean a lot.”

Founders of the Fallen Soldiers March realized that everyday citizens appreciate the men and women who serve on their behalf—they just don’t always have a way to show it.

Today the march-turned-nonprofit entity has a host of events in the works. In addition to the Poker and Bug Run, a Nine Mile March is set for Aug. 17 and a Four Points of the Compass March, with simultaneous 30-mile marches from the north, south, east and west converging on the square in Lebanon, is set for Nov. 11, Veterans Day Weekend. Supporters unable to participate in these events because of distance or disability, can join a virtual march via Leaders hope to someday see events take place nationwide through a network of affiliates.

Poker and Bug Run winners—one from the poker run and one from the bug run—will receive a Gibson USA Melody Maker guitar, a 32-inch flat-screen TV, four lower-level Nashville Predator tickets, a motorcycle full service, a six-month supply of Nutro Naturals dog food and a gift certificate to Needham’s Nursery. Entrance fees are $25 for the Poker Run, $25 for the Bug Run or $45 for the Poker and Bug Run.

Freight Train Boogie and Jordan Vanatta and Th’ Boys will perform at the final stop where food and drinks will be provided by Famous Dave’s Catering.

A live auction will feature a fiddle, CD and picture autographed by Charlie Daniels; a 12-gauge Remington 870EX Super Magnum Camo Stock Shot Gun and two tickets to a Darryl Worley show with a meet and greet.

Stops for the poker and bug run include:

  •     HDP Motorcycle Shop, 14346 Lebanon Road, Old Hickory
  •     Lewis Country Store, 5106 Old Hickory Boulevard, Nashville
  •     American Motorsports, 629 Myatt Drive, Madison
  •     Shady Cove Marina, 1115 Shady Cove Road, Castalian Springs
  •     National Guard Armory, 1010 Leeville Pike, Lebanon

Additional sponsors of the event include Walmart, American Legion Riders, Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, City of Lebanon, Lebanon Fire Department, International Association of Firefighters, Visionary Design Group and B Creative.

For more information about Fallen Soldiers March and its patriotic events that raise funds for service dogs for veterans, or to register for the May 19 Poker and Bug Run, visit

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Jim Retzke, President
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