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PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” American Legionnaire Lance Robinson believes Sept. 10, 2001, was â€śthe last day of freedomâ€ť in the United States, but now, heâ€™s looking to see that date recognized as something else.
Robinson, a U.S. Marine veteran and resident of Export, Westmoreland County, stopped in Punxsutawney Thursday as part of a 300-mile bicycle trek that he calls the â€śHonor Ride Across America.â€ť
â€śI stopped in Punxsutawney because it is, in my opinion, a notable destination because of the different veteransâ€™ organizations and groups that honor veterans,â€ť such as the Eagles, Moose, the VFW and the American Legion, which is hosting Robinson during his trip.
His goal is to establish a nationwide Brother to Brother Day â€” Sept. 10, â€śa new day of honor for all those that don a uniform of sacrifice: Military, police, firefighters, EMTs.â€ť
On board with Robinsonâ€™s cause is State Rep. Eli Evankovich (R-Armstrong/Westmoreland), who proposed House Resolution 555, which recognizes Sept. 10, 2012, as Brother to Brother Day in
Pennsylvania. The state House passed the resolution March 12.
â€śHouse Resolution 555 is a way to acknowledge our heartfelt appreciation and to simply say thank you to those men and women in uniform who give us our safety, our freedom, and our peace of mind,â€ť Evankovich said. â€śThe Commonwealth joins Lance Robinsonâ€™s efforts in bringing awareness to this special day of recognition for their service and sacrifice.â€ť
Robinson said he also has the support of U.S. Sen. Robert Casey and state Sen. Don White.
On his journey, Robinson is carrying a petition to enact this day as a national event. He seeks one million signatures to present to Congressional leaders in the future.
Robinson began his trip Sept. 10, 2010, on foot in Washington, D.C., covering 18 states before taking a winter break. Pennsylvania is his 19th state, this time on a bicycle on which he plans to visit 10 Legion posts â€” including Punxsy â€” in rural communities.
His next Legion stop will be at 5 p.m. Sunday in Rural Valley.
He calls his proposed day of recognition Brother to Brother in honor of Americaâ€™s World War II veterans, whose numbers are decreasing every day, as â€śa tribute, to honor them again before their flames are extinguished.
â€śI feel the Lord has called me out to do this mission,â€ť said Robinson, a four-year Marine veteran who served as a machine repairman and with the military police. Since his discharge, the married father of two daughters and a son has worked in contracting, welding and machining.
â€śMy wife and kids support me,â€ť he said. â€śThey are happy to know that Iâ€™m doing the Lordâ€™s work.â€ť
Robinson hopes to travel to all the capitals in â€śthe lower 48,â€ť covering Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kansas between now and October, all on his bicycle that hauls not only his U.S. flags and travel gear, but also literature and a large banner â€” which sometimes acts as a wind sail when itâ€™s windy, he said â€” calling attention to his cause.
â€śThe first year, I saw snow, sleet, sun, heat and cold,â€ť he said. â€śIâ€™ve slept under bridges and on the side of the highways.â€ť
Robinson said he also recalls the core attributes of a Marineâ€™s character: Honor, commitment and duty.
â€śIâ€™m honoring my brothers, Iâ€™m committed to my mission, and I feel itâ€™s my duty to my country,â€ť he said.
Robinson travels without a vehicular escort and performs his own work for the Internet and Facebook, noting that he receives monetary donations for food and other needs from people he meets â€śface-to-face ... through the generosity of great Americans, and the kindness of strangers.
â€śIâ€™m doing this alone,â€ť he said. â€śIf people see me, feel free to stop and chat.â€ť
You can learn more about Robinsonâ€™s mission by looking up â€śHonor Ride Across Americaâ€ť on Facebook.