Remembering

What drives more than a half-million bikers and thier passengers to sit under a hot baking sun in a Pentagon parking lot for six hours?

Rolling Thunder.

What makes it worth the risk to participate in the world's largest group motorcycle ride where the bike overheats, the clutch turns rubbery and Bermuda Triangle-threatening potholes await you on Washington City streets?

Rolling Thunder.

It becomes worth it when thousands of people line Memorial Bridge, Constitution and Independence Avenues to cheer, when young children reach out their hands and the procession stops so motorcycllists can stop and shake the hands of two wheelchair-bound veterans -- one from Vietnam and one from the current Iraq war.

It becomes worth it when you're stopped during a lull and a Vietnamese woman your age comes out of the crowd, hands you a flower, kisses you on your gray, bearded cheek and says "thank you" before disappearing back into the crowd.

On this day, on Washington's teeming streets, America is not divided, America is not partisan and American is not driven by personal interests.

Rolling Thunder began as a public demand for accountability of prisoners of war and missing in action from Vietnam. It remains that, and more. Now it serves as a reminder that we owe so much to those who serve and that all too often we are delinquent on that debt. The rider beside me in that hot parking lot Sunday morning served in Desert Storm and Iraq. The one behind me served in Vietnam. Like all of us, they rode to honor all brothers and sisters who serve and especially to recognize those who did not come home alive.

It took me 11 years to return to Rolling Thunder.  It won't take that long again.

What drives more than a half-million bikers and thier passengers to sit under a hot baking sun in a Pentagon parking lot for six hours?

Rolling Thunder.

What makes it worth the risk to participate in the world’s largest group motorcycle ride where the bike overheats, the clutch turns rubbery and Bermuda Triangle-threatening potholes await you on Washington City streets?

Rolling Thunder.

It becomes worth it when thousands of people line Memorial Bridge, Constitution and Independence Avenues to cheer, when young children reach out their hands and the procession stops so motorcycllists can stop and shake the hands of two wheelchair-bound veterans — one from Vietnam and one from the current Iraq war.

It becomes worth it when you’re stopped during a lull and a Vietnamese woman your age comes out of the crowd, hands you a flower, kisses you on your gray, bearded cheek and says "thank you" before disappearing back into the crowd.

On this day, on Washington’s teeming streets, America is not divided, America is not partisan and American is not driven by personal interests.

Rolling Thunder began as a public demand for accountability of prisoners of war and missing in action from Vietnam. It remains that, and more. Now it serves as a reminder that we owe so much to those who serve and that all too often we are delinquent on that debt. The rider beside me in that hot parking lot Sunday morning served in Desert Storm and Iraq. The one behind me served in Vietnam. Like all of us, they rode to honor all brothers and sisters who serve and especially to recognize those who did not come home alive.

It took me 11 years to return to Rolling Thunder.  It won’t take that long again.

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

3 Responses

  1. I’ve had the thrill of seeing several years of Rolling Thunder. My son, Jake, has been riding in it for many years. The sight has always moved me, it conveys the best sort of patriotism. I’m glad you were able to participate.

  2. Just wanted to say “THANK YOU” for writing about Rolling Thunder and keeping the info.flowing. I have been to all 22 R/T and riden in 21, my bike took a crap in R/T #3. For anyone who hasn’t been there it’s something you should do at least once!!! But after that one time you will know why the people return year after year after year!! In the words of my friend BLU-LADY 101 the sound of the bikes and the feel of the ground vibrating is truly AWESOME!!!!!!
    It makes me proud to see how the country comes together to support the Vet’s both past and present.
    Keep up the good work!!!! BRAT VNV M/C

Comments are closed.

On Key
Related Posts
Keeping time around the world

Keeping time around the world

In a period of my adult, professional, life, I spent many days (and nights) on planes flying around the world. For many of those years,