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Veterans’ medical care and the challenges that veterans face when navigating the federal system concern the group.

“No big officials want to push themselves out in the limelight to do anything about these problems,” Mr. Muller said. “Where is the White House? Where are the politicians? Where is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? They’ve got to remember that war is hell, and our troops deserve the best.”

Still, the wheels beckon and his signature black beret is ready. Mr. Muller will lead the motorcycle multitude aboard a 1992 Harley Davidson “low rider” with a flawless black finish, flame orange pinstripes and polished chrome.

His riding mates could number 850,000 this year from every state, he said, along with Canada, Europe and Australia and other far-flung places. They’ll barrel forward on big bikes and small, on “old-school” choppers, high-tech sport bikes, grand three-wheelers or maybe a full-dressed Harley with a sidecar - perfect for a man and his missus.

“No attitudes. Confirmed: everyone must wear a helmet,” notes a directive to the participants, who will assemble at the Pentagon parking lot early Sunday morning for the big ride. It takes about four hours to send the bikers out in waves - over the Memorial Bridge to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Although the massive ride is the real mission, the weekend also will include a candlelight vigil, memorial wreath presentations, musical tributes, color guards and a free barbecue - all events punctuated by the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance and a rousing chorus of the national anthem.

“Our motto is ‘we will not forget.’ And I don’t think we ever will,” Mr. Muller said.