Rolling Thunder’s apparent departure from the motorcycle-club scene will leave a chasm in the hearts and souls of millions of veterans.
Veterans have been rolling into Washington, D.C., each Memorial Day weekend to be part of Rolling Thunder, a gargantuan rally to show solidarity with other veterans, prisoners of war and service members who are missing in action. But this past weekend’s rally could be the last. Rolling Thunder may become yet another casualty of rising costs and logistical problems.
Rolling Thunder was founded in 1988 and incorporated seven years later. It has more than 90 chartered chapters in the United States and overseas. The organization’s aim is to obtain full accountability for the prisoners of war and troops missing in action of all wars, according to the organization’s official website. The group’s slogan is both challenge and vow: “We will not forget.”
News that the 2019 rally may be Rolling Thunder’s finale emboldened hundreds of thousands of bikers, likely a record-breaking number, to flock to the Pentagon parking lot May 26, ready for their final ride into the city and around the National Mall.
Even as Rolling Thunder organizers said the rally will not return in 2020, President Donald Trump issued a tweet during Sunday’s event asserting that it would continue.
“The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, & hopefully for many years to come,” Trump tweeted. “It is where they want to be, & where they should be.”
Yes, it is where they want to be and where they should be, but it may not come to pass. But if this is truly the end of the event, government leaders should know that the thunder of millions of veterans, their supporters and families is a powerful legacy. They would do well not to ignore it.