About the Tour of Honor

In 2003, co-founder Steve Brooks participated in the "11,000 miles in 11 days" Iron Butt Rally, a scavenger-type motorcycle competition around the United States. The fourth and final leg of the rally, from Portland, Maine to Missoula, Montana, had a "Memorials and Monuments" theme where bonus sites included those at the Pentagon, New York City's Battery Park, and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Steve remembers them vividly, but the Flight 93 Memorial tugged at his heart the most.

It was less than two years after the September 11 attack on the United States, and he stood in the gravel parking lot with two other IBR riders, gazing down to the treeline where United Airlines Flight 93 had crashed. The plane was on its way to the third and final target that morning -- Washington, DC -- when passengers overtook the hijackers, forcing the plane into the ground with 40 souls on board.

After the two other riders left, Steve was left with his thoughts as he looked over the dozens of makeshift memorials. Some were from classrooms of school children, a tall cyclone fence hung with dozens of first-responder hats and helmets, wood carvings of angels and doves . . . After a while in the total silence, a small red car drove into the empty parking lot, with Student Driver decals on the doors. When it stopped, a high school student got out of the drivers seat, and a burly gentleman got out of the passenger seat. They didn't say a word.

After a bit, Steve walked over to the instructor and asked if he was there "that day." His eyes welled up and he explained that Yes, he was the local high school gym teacher when it happened. Earlier incidents that morning were on the school's TV screens and every student and teacher were watching in horror. Then they heard a loud boom and saw a plume of dark smoke just two miles east of there. Not yet knowing what happened, they immediately shut down the school.

The teacher further explained that a good friend of his was the county coroner and he would often volunteer to help at the crash site. Just two weeks prior to Steve's visit, they had combed over the crash site, still finding personal effects, when they bulldozed it over for the final time.

Steve explains that it's stories like that make motorcycling especially meaningful and he wondered how he could share those moments with other riders. So he talked it over with his Brother Dave and their wives, and Iron Butt Association President Michael Kneebone, and out of those conversations, came up with the Tour of Honor in 2010.

Since the beginning, the self-directed Tour of Honor has grown to over 1,000 riders sending in nearly 40,000 photos a year, raised tens of $1000 for veteran and first responder charities, won an award from the American Motorcyclist Association for "Tour Organizer of the Year," partnered with the Department of Defense to recognize Vietnam Veterans and their families, and now include well-known databases for auxiliary rides: World War I Doughboys, Veterans Cemeteries, Huey Aircraft, War Dogs and K9 Heroes, Gold Star Family Memorials and 9/11 Memorials.

This could not be done without the volunteer staff of state sponsors, scorers and of course, the riders. They are the ones that make Tour of Honor what it is today!