Standing by their motorcycles in the 90-degree heat, American Legion members anxiously held their phones waiting to hear the revving of motorcycles along U.S. 40.
“There he is,” pointed one member.
“Oh my gosh, it’s Captain Kirk!” squealed the wife of another.
Like it was a movie, William Shatner, 84, famously known as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, pulled up to the entrance of Independence’s American Legion Post 21 with his wife, Elizabeth, behind him.
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“Wow, now this is a hot ride,” said Shatner as he pulled up, face red and sweaty from the sun.
Shatner stopped by Independence on Wednesday night as part of a motorcycle trek across the U.S. to raise awareness for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship, which helps children whose parents had been killed in action since 9/11. The actor was also promoting the Rivet, a new type of motorcycle he designed with the American Wrench Shop.
Kansas City is the second city Shatner visited as part of his eight-day, 2,400 mile excursion, which is being called The Ride. The road trip is being filmed for an upcoming documentary and will highlight Shatner’s trip to different American Legion posts. Members of the American Legion Riders will also be riding with him.
The trip started Tuesday outside Chicago, where American Wrench, a motorcycle shop, is based. Shatner and the legion riders previously stopped in St. Louis and will visit Oklahoma City; Amarillo, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles.
He was greeted inside the legion by President Harry Truman, impersonated by Independence resident Niel Johnson, with a “The buck stops here” plaque. He spent about an hour inside the legion meeting members and showing off the prototype of Rivet, a silver, three-wheeled motorcycle with brown leather. Because of mechanical issues, Shatner isn’t riding the new motorcycle during the trip.
Shatner said he wanted to use the promotion of the Rivet as a way to promote the scholarship.
“The story of The Ride is the hopes and dreams of so many people that are riding on the ride,” Shatner said. “It’s the hopes and dreams of American Wrench. It’s of American Legion.”
Post 21 is the largest legion in Missouri with more than 1,500 members, said Mark Clark, the Midwest representative on the National American Legion Riders Advisory Committee. Clark described Shatner’s visit as an “extraordinary honor” and “just really, really cool.”
“He could have gone to any legion in Missouri, and he decided to come to ours,” Clark said. “And for that, we are forever grateful.”