ROLLING THUNDER & A MARINE’S MEMORIAL DAY VIGIL

By Kasey Jachim

As we prepare for Memorial Day events, let us remember not only those who have sacrificed their lives for our liberty and freedom but those who served and still serve our country with honor, pride, courage and dignity.  Rolling Thunder is but one of the tributes to the wounded, the fallen and the missing.

The Founders of Rolling Thunder were ordinary men who understood that they had a right to have their voices heard and proceeded to lay down the plans for a gathering in Washington, D.C. during the 1988 Memorial Day weekend. They reached out to their families, fellow veterans and veteran’s advocates to unify and form a march and demonstration in the nation’s Capitol.   Their arrival would be announced by the roar of their motorcycles, a sound not unlike the 1965 bombing campaign against North Vietnam dubbed Operation Rolling Thunder. Hence, they would call themselves “Rolling Thunder” a title that would endure time and be trademarked in 1990.  Word spread quickly and by Memorial Day weekend in 1988, approximately 2,500 motorcycles from all over the country converged on Washington, D.C. to demand from our leaders a full accounting of all POW/MIAs. As the Founders of Rolling Thunder made their stand that day in front of the Capitol, they reflected thankfully for the people who came in support of the POW/ MIAs and for the unity that was felt. This was Rolling Thunder’s first demonstration. Only until ALL POW/MIAs ARE ACCOUNTED FOR, it will not be their last. On that day, the foundation was laid for the annual “Ride for Freedom” to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall (also referred to as the “Ride to the Wall”).  The number of participants/spectators in the Memorial Day weekend Ride for Freedom has grown from 2,500 to an estimated 900,000.  (Source)

Since Memorial Day 2002, USMC Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers has stood vigil saluting all the veterans and bikers honoring the fallen and the missing.  He said he first started as a ” spontaneous Thank You” but “is now his moral obligation.”  Last year he not only endured the heat and exhaustion but stood at attention for more than three hours with a broken wrist.  He exemplifies what the US Marine Corps and a true Patriot stand for.  For this, we thank you SSgt. Chambers.  We thank you and all our veterans and service members – you are our heroes!

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