Rolling Thunder Honors Soldiers Memorial Day
Monday, May 23, 2011
Expect to see plenty of motorcycles decked out in the red, white and blue at the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally this weekend held in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
While most of the country is scraping off their BBQ grills and are digging their flags out of garages in order to unfurl the red, white and blue this weekend for Memorial Day, thousands of motorcyclists will be converging on the nation’s Capital for the annual Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally
to honor those who have died or were reported missing while serving our country in the U.S. Armed Forces. Rolling Thunder 2011 is a “First Amendment Demonstration Run” in honor of fallen and missing soldiers. What started out as a small event attended by about 2500 back in 1988 has “struck a chord in the hearts of veterans everywhere and from all walks of life” and now attracts around a quarter-of-a-million people to Washington, DC over the Memorial Day weekend. It began as a demonstration to bring awareness to the plight of soldiers which were either POW or MIA in Vietnam but has now grown in to a tribute to all soldiers who have died fighting for our country.
Rolling Thunder will take place on Sunday, May 29th. It starts at the North Pentagon Lot in Arlington, rolls by Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Park and then crosses over Arlington Memorial Bridge. After that it heads down Constitution Avenue before looping back down SW Independence Avenue, coming to a stop at the Lincoln Memorial. Next to the stopping point at the Lincoln Memorial, an area called “Thunder Alley” will be set up with vendors selling official Rolling Thunder t-shirts, pins and patches, and standard biker fare like leather goods and riding glasses. There will also be food vendors and bathrooms. The event usually includes a musical tribute and special guest speakers. The North Pentagon Parking Lot will open up at 7 a.m., but the ride doesn’t head out until noon. Because of the sheer amount of numbers of participating riders, the ride will take several hours, so be sure to bring items like sunscreen and water.
This year organizers also will be awarding one lucky winner a Rolling Thunder
Raffle Bike. The prize is a 2010 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic with a custom Rolling Thunder paint job. The luxury-touring motorcycle comes with black, slotted disc wheels, a Harmon Kardon sound system and Harley’s 96 cubic-inch Twin Cam 96 V-Twin. Tickets are three for $10 and you need not be present to win. The winner’s name will be drawn on Memorial Day, Monday May 30 at 3 p.m.
Of course, many motorcyclists are tried-and-true veterans who bleed red, white and blue, so the fact that Rolling Thunder has been embraced so emphatically by bikers is no surprise. I’m sure many will be making a trip to nearby Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to fallen comrades and family members. But you don’t have to be a vet to participate as all motorcyclists are welcome. We’re coming up on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, another reason we should “never forget” and support events like Rolling Thunder. So this Memorial Day, remember to show your love and support for the men and women who dutifully serve to protect us in the U.S. Armed Forces.
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