Torch Run stops in Shafter
Last updated 10/2/2023 at 4:57pm | View PDF
Tribute to Fallen Heroes holds an annual Memorial Torch Run, beginning in Eugene, Ore., and runs for 22 days through the western United States, paying tribute to fallen soldiers who have bravely served our country.
The organization made a stop in Shafter on Monday afternoon, paying tribute to Shafter man Daniel Rodriguez, who had served in the U.S. Army and had passed away in 2020. Rodriguez was killed in an accident while he was on his way back home to visit his family.
Warren Williamson, director of the Torch Run, said that they were there as part of the 48 soldiers that they were honoring on this trip. Williamson and a host of motorcycle riders pulled up to the home of Dago and Yvonne Rodriguez, pulling a trailer that contained a torch that was lit at the beginning of their ride on Sept. 9 in Eugene.
"This torch represents the fallen soldiers that we are honoring and will remain lit throughout our trip, as a reminder of the lives that were lost and the memories of these men and women will never be forgotten," Williamson said.
After the playing of "Amazing Grace," Williamson said some words to honor Rodriguez, his life and the sacrifice he made. "Rodriguez was in the First Apache Regimen, and was awarded the Spur Award during his time in Germany. Rodriguez was a respected soldier and maintained his family as his greatest passion. He will be missed by so many."
Dago Rodriguez, Daniel's father, said that this honor from the organization meant much to him and his entire family, helping them keep Rodriguez's memory alive in not only their hearts, but the entire community's.
The family was also presented with a plaque memorializing the event, and were invited to write a message on an American flag that will be traveling with them throughout their trip and then taken on a tour throughout the United States, being displayed along with other flags and other memorabilia from their trips.
The group also provided them with a family photo which was presented to them as a painting, something that they can hang on their wall as another tribute to the life of Daniel.
Another organization that was key to the event was the Portrait of a Warrior, which has a gallery in downtown Bakersfield filled with pictures and memorabilia from fallen local heroes throughout Kern County. Silvia Hall and Sandy Jantz were on hand to help the family and the visitors with the event. "We love these events and think that they are so special to the families as well as the communities who were touched by these fallen soldiers," said Hall.
Before the procession hit the road on to their next destination, a gold bell was rang by those in attendance, in memory of Rodriguez and the fact that he will now be with them through the remainder of their special trip.