Rolling Thunder – 1st Amendment Demonstration Run
Rolling Thunder is the largest 1st Amendment demonstration run in the United States, and every year during Memorial Day weekend motorcyclists roll into our Nation’s capital to emphasize the urgency of keeping POW/MIA issues current.
“With the economic recovery and healthcare reform taking center stage, the POW/MIA issue is one that nobody in our government wants to address anymore. If they keep dragging their feet, sooner or later anyone who was captured alive will have passed away. But for their families, there is never any closure. Searching for and returning remains is a valid mission but there is too much evidence that live POWs were left behind, particularly in Southeast Asia, and we shouldn’t give up efforts to find them.”
Artie Muller, Rolling Thunder national executive director, and co-founder
I never cease to tire in participating in this ride since I started going in 1995. If you can imagine doing a toy run in your own city or a city as big as Atlanta. What about riding your Nations Capital, greeted by people on overpasses as you come in and people slapping your hand as you ride down Independence and Constitution Ave?
Each year at the end of the ride at the Lincoln Memorial, you may see veteran RT returning performers like Nancy Sinatra & Country Singer Gordon Painter. In past years, I was able to meet Nancy Sinatra, a regular participant, Gary Sinise, Connie Stevens, Chris Noel and TV, and film actor Robert Patrick, who rode his bike all the way from California. I say it every year to my friends and fellow riders, if you are a vet, this is the “bucket list,” the one to go to. Even if you are not a vet, this is still the one to go to support and honor those who served and died for us, so that we can ride free.
After my first run in 1995, I was inspired to write a poem which is featured on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial web site www.thewall-usa.com.
REFLECTIONS ON ROLLING THUNDER
It started from the Pentagon, it was an awesome sight,
A motorcade of cyclists, an entourage of knights.
Winding through the streets, as far as you can see,
Across Memorial Bridge, through Washington, DC
Up Independence Avenue, and ’round the Capitol,
By Washington’s Monument, on and on they roll.
Down Constitution Avenue, past the reflecting pool.
The roar of different cycles, but all playing the same tune.
Past the cheering crowds, lined up along the street,
With their hands outstretched, to bikers they would greet.
Where do they all come from, why is it they come?
From Pacific, North and South, like sounds of rolling drums.
From rows of eight across to fifteen bikes abreast,
Assorted motorcycles, honoring the best.
The ultimate direction, for the bikers all,
All headed down the city’s streets, for the Viet Nam Wall.
Feelings of emotions and feelings of much pride,
Respect for those missing, and in ‘Nam that died.
Despite the controversy, they were well up to the task.
Those inscribed upon the wall, served when they were asked.
They gave their lives for us, so that we may be free,
Free to live and ride, wherever that we please.
For POW/MIA’s, that is why we roam,
Never to be forgotten, bring all of them back home.
Author: Paul B. Murray
1st Mobile Combat Communications Group, USAF
(1st MOB) “Black Hats” based in the Philippines
SouthEast Asia: 1967; Tet Offensive 1968; 1969
Khe Sanh 2/68; Quang Tri; Hue; Phu Bai; Chu Lai; Pleiku;
Bien Hoa; Ban Me Thout; Nha Trang; Da Nang;
Cam Ranh Bay; Saigon (and other places with no names)
Nakhon Phanom (Laotian border); Udon; Ubon; Korat; Bangkok
PUEBLO INCIDENT-1968 Osan; Kunsan, Seoul
JAPAN, TAIWAN, OKINAWA