- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2007

Rolling Thunder’s annual ride into the District tomorrow heralds a Memorial Day weekend of solemn observances of U.S. military sacrifices and celebrations of their victories.

The observances conclude Monday with the National Memorial Day Parade, with scheduled appearances by a World War I veteran, a Hall of Fame pitcher who interrupted his baseball career to serve as a Navy gunner in World War II and veterans of the first unit of black fighter pilots.

The Rolling Thunder motorcyclists are scheduled to hold a wreath-laying ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Northwest this morning at 11 in advance of their main rally.

The big noise that gives title to the cyclists is scheduled to begin at noon tomorrow as the group gathers at the North Pentagon parking lot for their “Ride for Freedom” demonstration. Arlington County police will close Washington Boulevard, Route 27 from the nearby I-395 to the Memorial Bridge until 3 p.m.

Last year, 350,000 motorcyclists, bicyclists and scooter riders took part in the ride.

First arrivals today will ride to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Veterans Administration to urge improvement in health care, the return of prisoners of war and more searches for service personnel missing in action.

“This is something we must do to show our support for current and future veterans, and for POWs and MIAs,” said Artie Muller, 62, who founded Rolling Thunder 20 years ago.

The ride concludes with a two-hour rally that begins at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Lincoln Memorial.

A free concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and musicians Natalie Cole and Josh Turner is scheduled for later tomorrow evening on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

President Bush is scheduled to deliver a Memorial Day address at Arlington National Ceremony on Monday. Events begin at 11 a.m. and include a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns and a Marine Band concert.

A wreath-laying service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.

The National Memorial Day Parade begins Monday at 2 p.m. at Seventh Street Northwest and will proceed west along Constitution Avenue, past the White House and Washington Monument and end at 17th Street Northwest.

Seven recipients of the Medal of Honor will signal the beginning of the parade, which will halt for a minute of silence — a National Moment of Remembrance — at 3 p.m. Taps will be played for the men and women who died in service to their country, and Air Force fighters will fly over in a missing-man formation.

The parade will also honor 106-year-old Frank Buckles, one of only four living American veterans of World War I, and baseball legend Robert William Andrew Feller, 88, who interrupted his career to serve in World War II as an anti-aircraft gunner in the Navy.

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