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November 23, 2014

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Patriotism is on a roll: Flag tour sets off from Las Vegas with a roar

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Yasmina Chavez

The motorcycle patriot tour riders arrives with a Las Vegas Metro Police escort for the “Nation of Patriots” ceremony at the Red Rock Harley Davidson, Monday, July 22, 2013.

Nation of Patriots Tour

Dale, right, a road captain and flag bearer, from the Route 66 Launch slideshow »

Fifty thunderous Harley-Davidsons and six motorcycle police escorts roared into Red Rock Harley Davidson to honor injured military veterans on Monday.

Nation of Patriots, an organization dedicated to raising money for wounded veterans and their families, was escorted by Las Vegas Metro Police Department officers down Rainbow Boulevard in the middle of their four-month-long trek across the country.

The organization travels with an American flag, which changes hands in every city. The flag began its journey in Milwaukee on Memorial Day and will return to the the organization's founding city on Labor Day, after visiting 98 cities.

Nation of Patriots' Las Vegas chapter received the flag from Nation of Patriots' Route 66 chapter of Kingman, Ariz., during a ceremony in the Red Rock Harley-Davidson store. The Las Vegas chapter will escort the flag to Lancaster, Calif., and will pass the flag to the Palmdale chapter Tuesday morning.

Las Vegas Fire & Rescue fire trucks also displayed their support, as two fire trucks hoisted a 35-by-50-foot American flag with their extended ladders.

Iraq War veteran Tony Mascari praised the uniformed officers for helping with the organization's flag ceremony and recognizing that veterans issues were important.

"I think our veterans deserve every possible courtesy and respect that they can possibly get," said Mascari, who served in the Navy. "It's very touching and it's very humbling to see the kind of support that our veterans are getting today."

Nation of Patriots Southwest Regional Commander Larry Kusler, an Air Force veteran, said he hoped that Metro and Las Vegas Fire & Rescue would assist them with escorting the flag in the future.

Kusler said the organization's Las Vegas chapter has raised over $20,000 to assist veterans through fundraising and donations. He hopes to gather even more donations next year so the organization can help more wounded members of the armed forces.

He said it was an opportunity to pay back the veterans and offer their thanks.

"We have an awful lot of freedoms in this country that are guaranteed for us by the military. They're out there doing what they do so we can enjoy the lifestyle that we have," said Kusler, a Las Vegas Fire & Rescue fire inspector.

All fifty Harley-Davidson riders — and some passengers — voluntarily contributed their money and time to the cause to assist veterans, Kusler said.

The organization was founded five years ago, and the first cross-country journey took place four years ago, Kusler said. He was chosen as the flag bearer in Las Vegas twice before he was appointed the regional commander.

He said Monday's event was the culmination of a year of planning — phone calls, emails and coordination between chapters.

Mascari, a first-time attendee, was thankful for all the work the organization put into the patriotic display.

“It's a wonderful sight,” Mascari said. “Thanks to everybody for their support and their willingness to do this.”

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