A convoy of fire trucks and other first responder vehicles emblazoned with images of American symbols rolled into Hickory on the morning of Oct. 23.
Hickory is one of at least 28 stops across the country planned for the Patriots, God and Country Tour.
Arizona resident Dave Graybill organized the tour, which started in Phoenix on Sept. 29.
Graybill is no stranger to a cross-country convoy. He founded Pink Heals, an organization which brings pink fire trucks to various communities — including Hickory — as a fundraiser for cancer patients.
This tour is different, however, Graybill said.
The Patriots, God and Country Tour is not a charity. Rather, it is meant as a celebration of American greatness and freedom, Graybill said.
He said the tour will stop in Washington D.C. on Election Day.
“Basically, it’s an American movement, a march to the White House to talk about American freedoms and how great we are as a country,” Graybill said. “So, I just want to lift everybody up and talk about the greatness that we have in this United States.”
The themes of the tour were signified by the trucks, which were covered in images of American flags, service members in action and national monuments.
Part of the tour’s mission involves meeting and showing gratitude to veterans, law enforcement officers, elected officials, first responders and religious leaders.
Organizers of the tour have had veterans at their various stops sign the inside door of the military fire truck.
Jason Hill, a Hickory firefighter and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was one of those who came out to sign the door. “I was honored to sign the truck on behalf of the Marine Corps and appreciate the tour stopping in Hickory,” Hill said.
U.S. Army veteran Larry Drum, who came out to the stop at the American Legion Fairgrounds, said he thought the tour was a good way of showing appreciation for veterans. “For a long time they put us down, didn’t they?” Drum said. “Now they’re building us up.”
Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.