- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
- Foreign minister vows response if Russians are attacked in Ukraine
Rolling Thunder still on its mission for POW/MIA remembrance
As hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists gathered Sunday morning outside the Pentagon for the 25th annual Rolling Thunder ride into the District, Jim Bradley couldn’t help but marvel at the scene.
Mr. Bradley, a retired Air Force lieutenant, rode in his first Rolling Thunder 15 years ago and has come back every year since - each time leaving in awe of the boundless patriotism and sheer scale of the event, which is held to honor veterans, including prisoners of war and service members missing in action.
“It’s important that the people up on Capitol Hill know that it’s the politicians’ responsibility to account for everyone they send over there,” said Mr. Bradley, 73, of Apollo Beach, Fla. “We’re here to let them know that we’re going to be here until they take care of everybody.”
An estimated 400,000 people rode in Sunday’s rally, traveling en masse through the District and to the Mall to cap a weekend of vigils, concerts, speeches and other events.
The first Rolling Thunder was in 1988, organized by a group of Vietnam War veterans who sought to bring attention to the veterans unaccounted for overseas.
About 2,500 riders participated in the first ride, using their roaring engines as a way to grab the attention of U.S. officials.
It would be an understatement to say the event has grown since then.
“This is just phenomenal. I’ve never seen so many bikes in my life,” said Kaye Hollifield of Edenton, N.C. “We just can’t afford to forget the price that they’ve paid.”
Many of the riders were decked out in jeans and leather vests with military insignia on the hot, humid afternoon, looking every bit the part of a tough, grizzled biker gang while also fostering a strong, positive message.
“When you usually see a crew of bikers go down the road, you want to move out of the way and go somewhere else,” said Rich Anderson, 49, a retired Army specialist from Bristow, Va. “But when you see them in a pack, all with the flags, it kind of brings out a different feeling.”
While many riders were veterans, many more were civilians who came to honor friends, family members and even complete strangers who have devoted their lives to protecting the country and in some cases paid the ultimate price.
“I’ve lost uncles and friends and everything. I’ll do anything to support a soldier,” said Mike Evangelho of Brick, N.J., a civilian who brought along a friend who served in Vietnam.
Organizers consider Rolling Thunder to be more of a demonstration than a parade, as it has the very serious goal of raising awareness of the more than 80,000 U.S. service members who are unaccounted for since World War II, including Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl being held captive by the Taliban - the only current U.S. POW from the war in Afghanistan.
“If they think there’s no patriotism in the United States, let them come here,” Mr. Bradley said. “These are people that want to show some appreciation for the military and pay their respects to those who never come back.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Md. drivers could face eventual doubling of gas tax
- Federal appeals court restores Maryland's concealed carry law
- Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
- Maryland Senate passes bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell assailed on transportation
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Georgia governor signs bill expanding gun rights
- Harry Reid using tax dollars to fight Koch brothers, La. GOP chair charges
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- IRS revokes conservative group's tax-exempt status over anti-Clinton statements: report
- Ukraine claims torture by pro-Russian forces on the heels of Biden's stern warning to Moscow
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014