MADISON, Ala. (WHNT)-- Thousands of bikers rolled through the Tennessee Valley Saturday on a route known as the Trail of Tears.
They're hoping all who see them will think of what happened to Native Americans during their forced removal from the Southeast.
It's a heavy topic, but one they tell WHNT News 19 must not be forgotten.
"It seems like it's been lost in history. People don't quite understand what has happened," said Libby Solesbee, riding from Nantahala, North Carolina. Her town is full of Native American history, and she wants to spread that knowledge through the Trail of Tears journey.
We also caught up with Roger Dale Blackstone from Greenville, South Carolina as he stopped in Madison with his son. "We need to not forget our past so we don't commit such atrocities again in the future," he said of that historic march toward reservations in the 1830's.
"It just allows us to keep pushing forward for what's right," echoed Edward Purcell, who took the motorcycle ride with his friends.
For some, though, the Trail of Tears is even more personal. Many of them have Native American heritage.
Kim Bryant from Albertville recalls her own family. "[This] just makes me think back and be more appreciative of my ancestors," she said.
Theresa Simon from Decatur says her grandfather was Cherokee, and this ride touches her too.
"The trials they had to go through..." she started, "I feel like I'm honoring him and my heritage."
It's the sense of unity they feel on the road that makes this truly an experience for bikers, along with the greetings they get from passersby.
Jeffery Barlow from Harvest explains, "When you get a couple hundred thousand people together, just the thunder of it gets your heart. Makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck."
This is a journey worth repeating for people like Barlow, who has ridden the Trail of Tears for ten years.
This was the 21st annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride.