Ever since the first American troops rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the Mexican Expedition in 1916, the Motor Company has enjoyed a innate bond with the men and women who have served our nation. To honor the service of active and retired U.S. military personnel, Harley-Davidson has declared November "Military Appreciation Month".
The centerpiece of "Military Appreciation Month" is the opportunity for other Americans to salute active and retired military members. People can log where they can create an electronic postcard featuring supermodel Marisa Miller and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, as well as include a personal message of gratitude.
People can also secure limited-edition posters, postcards and calendars featuring Miller and Harley-Davidson motorcycles exclusively at Harley-Davidson dealerships throughout the month of November. The "Military Appreciation Month" creative material featuring Miller pays tribute to the nostalgic military images painted by service members on the sides of U.S. bombers during World War II. Miller wears uniforms representing all five branches of the military in the photorealism styled creative.
"At Harley-Davidson, we’re all about freedom, but we can’t forget that freedom comes at a price," said Dino Bernacchi, Harley-Davidson’s director of Advertising and Promotions. "It’s humbling to think of the countless sacrifices these brave men and women – and their families – have made to keep our country free, so the Harley-Davidson family is honored to partner with Marisa to help salute military personnel this month."
The Motor Company is also rewarding active and retired military personnel with the opportunity to win a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle of their choice – delivered personally by Miller. Created in partnership with Maxim magazine, the "Harley Salutes the Military Contest" asks active military service men and women and veterans to answer five multiple choice questions and one fill-in-the-blank question asking, "what has been your proudest moment when serving your country?"
Beginning November 2, active and retired military personnel can log onto www.harley-davidson.com/thankyou and be directed to the contest. In addition to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle of their choice, the "Harley Salutes the Military Contest" winner will also receive free Rider’s Edge motorcycle training and tickets for them and three friends to attend the January 2, 2010, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event in Las Vegas.
"I’m honored to help the Motor Company salute the brave men and women who keep our country free," said Miller. "My grandfather is a veteran, and I’ve had the unique opportunity to meet several service men and women during recent USO tours, so the military holds a special place in my heart. I hope other Americans will join me and Harley-Davidson in saluting these real life heroes during the month of November."
After use in the Mexican Expedition, the U.S. military commissioned nearly one-third of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles produced in 1917 to support efforts during World War I and nearly half of the Motor Company’s production in 1918. At war’s end, it’s estimated that the Army used as many as 20,000 motorcycles. Interestingly, one day after the signing of the Armistice, Corporal Roy Holtz of Chippewa Falls, Wis., was the first American to enter Germany – riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
During World War II, the Motor Company provided nearly 90,000 WLA models for military use. In 1943, Harley-Davidson received the first of its four coveted Army-Navy "E" Awards for excellence in wartime production.
Today Harley-Davidson continues to support active and retired U.S. military personnel through Harley’s Heroes Tour. Harley’s Heroes Tour was made possible by a $1 million pledge from the Harley-Davidson Foundation to Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to support the DAV’s Mobile Service Office program, which provides benefits counseling to veterans who have service-connected injuries. Mobile Service Office units, which are staffed by highly-trained DAV National Service Officers who are all wartime disabled veterans, appear at various Harley-Davidson dealerships around the country.
"The Motor Company maintains a strong relationship with the military through the Harley-Davidson family of customers, dealers and employees," added Bernacchi. "In fact, 14 percent of Harley-Davidson employees and 30 percent of our customers are either active or retired U.S. military personnel."
Additional Military Appreciation Month events include a special "Salute to Military" weekend, November 7-11, 2009, which features free admission to the Harley-Davidson Museum for all military personnel and their families, special performances by the St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy and the DAV Mobile Services Office unit.