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“This is an unbelievable, great, wonderful start to our weekend. We are excited, and elated,” said Rolling Thunder spokeswoman Nancy Regg.

The 22nd-annual Rolling Thunder event includes three days of activities this Memorial Day weekend, capped off by a “Ride for Freedom” Sunday, from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Possibly half a million motorcycles will roar down the route.

“We’re here for the veterans, for our military, for America. And we want them to know we will never forget them,” Ms. Regg added.

As for Mr. Obama, he’ll get a rest with the wife and children at Camp David this weekend.