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March 2020

March 2020


Spring has officially sprung, fellow bikers! While your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker rides year-round, the 2020 riding season is officially here. Where will 2020 take you? Perhaps to Smoky Mountain Thunder over Memorial Day Weekend? I certainly hope so. It is an amazing event that will make even the toughest biker well up with tears remembering the sacrifices our veterans have made to protect our freedom. We all know that FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!

We all cherish the Second Amendment. It is a very simple sentence:

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

But this single sentence has been perverted by the gun control crowd more than any other sentence in our founding documents.

Our Founding Documents

Before we dive too deep into the Second Amendment, let’s take a look at all of our Founding documents:

  1. The Declaration of Independence was our original document. It was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, with input from Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. This document declared our independence and described what our Founders were striving for: a democratic republic. It would be ratified by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.
  2. The U.S. Constitution was the operating blueprint for the United States. It was officially ratified by all of the states on June 21, 1788 and became the effective rule of the land on March 4, 1789.
  3. The Bill of Rights was our next founding document and became the first 10 amendments to our U.S. Constitution. After the adoption of our constitution, many of our Founding Fathers were concerned about a lack of protection for the citizens. These Founders were primarily aligned with the Anti-Federalists and included the most outspoken critic of the Federalists, Thomas Jefferson. These wise men wanted protections for the people including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and protection against an overarching Federal government. These ten amendments would be drafted on September 25, 1789 and ratified by all states on December 15, 1791.

These amendments obviously included the Second – which we freedom lovers cherish. Over the years, there have been continuous attacks on the Second Amendment by those who wish to limit our ability to “keep and bear arms.” The biggest being the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 – a law which fortunately expired after 10 years of doing nothing to prevent violent crime with firearms. But the calls for new assault weapon bans continue along with other proposed legislation including: Universal background checks, restrictions in magazine capacity, banning of all semiautomatic firearms and gun registries. The biggest fallback fallacy of those wanting to take away our freedoms is, “the founders never envisioned modern weapons.” Or, “it only applies to the militia” – which they falsely claim to be our National Guard. This is all a bunch of hooey. Every single one of the Bill of Rights speaks to individual rights, with the exception of the Tenth Amendment – which provides that all rights not reserved to the Federal Government are reserved to the states.

Federalist No. 46

The Federalist Papers were written by three of the Founding Fathers: John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. These essays were originally written anonymously under the pseudonym, Publius, and were used as a way for these Founders to speak directly to the “People” – before the ratification of our Constitution.

Federalist No. 46 was written by James Madison and spoke to the “right to keep and bear arms.” Keep in mind this was before the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Some of the key portions of No. 46 are:

With regards to our right to bear arms, Madison writes, “The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States; an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and conducted by governments (states) possessing their affections and confidence.” Madison continues, “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments (states), to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government (Federal government) of any form can admit of.”


So, what does this all mean? First, the citizens of the United States are the last protection against any enemy, foreign or domestic. Domestic? Yes! Madison, and all of the Founders, recognized that a strong central government, with an ambition to force its will on her people, is dangerous to all God Given rights. Including speech, the press, assembly and the right to a speedy trial. Second, Madison recognized that these God Given rights are not given by the government. This includes the right to protect yourself. Someone attacking you is wanting to take away your rights to everything outlined in the Bill of Rights – with the exception of the Tenth Amendment. So, the next time a gun grabber tells you that you don’t need a gun, confidently tell them that it’s the Bill of Rights – which includes your right to live how you choose and protect yourself.

The Grey Beard Biker™️
@Biker4Life on Gab

Here in Middle Tennessee we have YUGE amounts of veterans and active duty soldiers. Your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker lives very close to Fort Campbell, which is home to the famous 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles), 5th Group Special Forces and 160 Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). Needless to say there are always lots of veteran motorcycle club (MC) rides, benefit rides and other charitable biker events for veterans and active duty soldiers alike. And it is very likely, if you were to attend one of these, you’d see the Grey Ghost blasting by with Grey Beard sitting behind the bars with a shit-eating grin on his face.

These rides and benefit functions are all great, but my favorite ride/event of the year, is Smoky Mountain Thunder. And it’s not because it’s in some of the most beautiful God’s Country in the United States, but because it’s all about our veterans.

Smoky Mountain Thunder – History

In an effort to provide full disclosure, Smoky Mountain Thunder was founded, and is managed by, friends of mine, Ron and Sandy Giddis. I met them several years ago through another awesome couple who I am also quite close to, Scott and Denise High, owners of Thunder Roads Tennessee Kentucky. And once again, to provide total clarity, your ever lovable Grey Beard Biker writes the monthly column, Bullet Points, for Thunder Roads Magazine. But I receive no personal financial gain from supporting Ron and Sandy.

Ron is a veteran, having served in the Vietnam War. After retiring, he moved to the mountains of East Tennessee and got involved working with large animals. But he and Sandy have another passion – riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Their love of riding was a perfect fit for them as they live in the Smoky Mountains and have miles and miles of beautiful roads in their proverbial backyard.

Their love of motorcycles and veteran causes took them to Rolling Thunder in 1998, and again in 2000. For those of you who do not know about Rolling Thunder, it was established to raise awareness of our POWs/MIAs who are unaccounted for overseas. While every event has inauspicious beginnings, Rolling Thunder grew to host over 200,000 bikers in our nation’s capitol – Washington D.C. Arriving home after Rolling Thunder, in 2000, Ron and Sandy decided it was time to raise awareness of the meaning of Memorial Day in East Tennessee and the surrounding states. Their first Smoky Mountain Thunder was in 2001 and keeps going strong today. No one is a better ambassador for the event than Ron:

Ron at the opening ceremony – 2014 Smoky Mountain Thunder

We have ridden Smoky Mountain Thunder the past several years and always look forward to the next Memorial Day Weekend! The crowd starts forming at the Sevier Country Courthouse, in downtown Sevierville, by 8:00 AM for the opening ceremony. Bikers ride from all over the country to listen to Ron open things up at 10:00 AM. There are guest speakers, music and the special guest Mr. Lincoln, the bald eagle. Ron and Sandy lead the bikers for the ride to Clinch Mountain promptly at 11:00 AM. He and Sandy are followed by riders flying the colors of each of our Armed Service branches. The 65-mile ride to Clinch Mountain, in Grainger County, is police escorted and offers riders scenic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The closing ceremony at Veteran’s Overlook wraps up the day’s events as the bikes ride under a U.S. Flag, held up by fire trucks from the local fire department. The entire event pulls at your heartstrings, but the closing ceremony is the most moving.

Here is some GoPro video I took a couple years back as we leave Sevierville:

Smoky Mountain Thunder – 2018
Lead bikes with each of military branches’ flags
Mr. Lincoln, the bald eagle, during the opening ceremony
Ron & Sandy leading thousands of bikes to Clinch Mountain
Bikers ride under the suspended Stars and Stripes when they arrive at Clinch Mountain
Thousands of bikers gather at Clinch Mountain for the closing ceremony
Veteran’s Memorial with the Smoky Mountains in the background
Thousands of bikes in the parking long and along the highway at Clinch Mountain
Ron & Sandy Giddis – your hosts for Smoky Mountain Thunder

Attending Smoky Mountain Thunder – 2020

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Smoky Mountain Thunder. The event has grown from 75 bikes in 2001 to several thousand bikes now. In 2015 a record 4,015 bikes rode to Clinch Mountain and 2020 promises to set a new record! Don’t miss your opportunity to ride with us in the Smoky Mountains, visit the sponsors and bid on the auction items.

It’s time to start planning your trip to the Gatlinburg area for this event. There is plenty of lodging available in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley and Sevierville. There is also great camping if you enjoy roughing it a bit. We usually stay as a group in a rental cabin and there are always plenty of those available through Airbnb and VRBO. But getting reservations early is important. I would highly recommend that you go early and wait to leave until after Memorial Day Monday. There is definitely less traffic, and by staying a week you can ride some of the best motorcycle roads in the United States.

More information about the 2020 Smoky Mountain Thunder Memorial Ride can be found in their official brochure:

Official 2020 Smoky Mountain Thunder brochure

The Grey Beard Biker hopes to see you in Sevierville on Sunday, May 24, 2020. Now go get some riding in and keep the shiny side up.

The Grey Beard Biker™️
@Biker4Life on Gab