A tribute to the massive annual motorcycle rally in Washington, D.C., that honors our country’s veterans.
Fittingly for an event that is all about remembering, Ruth’s illustrations depict hazy, often translucent figures riding through misty golden light past the towering statue of Abraham Lincoln to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A white child narrates in terse rhyme: “Grandpa rides for Joe and Tom, / friends he lost in Vietnam.” Traveling to rendezvous with Grandpa by train, the narrator adds, “our trip is for Uncle Zach, / flying airplanes far away. / His picture rides with me today.” Dressed in camo and riding in the grizzled grandfather’s sidecar, the child reaches the wall, where they “Leave a single flower. Kneel. / Names in charcoal. Cry. And heal.” Then at day’s end it’s time to ride again, with “Whispered wishes. Come home soon.” Only a quick mention of “POWs, MIAs” acknowledges that they are the event’s chief focus (or at least the focus of its organizers). More troublingly, in the art almost all of the visible faces, both of riders and in the background crowds, are white.
A deeply felt if sketchy companion for Eve Bunting’s The Wall, illustrated by Ronald Himler (1990), or the plethora of introductions to the Memorial Day holiday. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-8)