Most have heard the crashes of thunder in a storm but have not heard rolling thunder, the sound of motorcycles rolling out of the Pentagon parking lot and through the capital, Washington, D.C. Though this man-made sound is impressive, and there is more to it, it’s a display of patriotism and respect for all who defend our country: the United States of America.
Following the era of the Vietnam War, in 1988, the first bike run took place. This was started because Vietnam veterans, Artie Muller and Ray Manzo wanted to bring attention/awareness to the POW/MIA situation happening at that time. During Vietnam, remains of soldiers killed or soldiers missing in action (MIA) were not being returned home or respectfully buried and reports were out that live prisoners of war (POW) were left behind even though the war ended. Since then, Rolling Thunder started a charity branch in 2007 to help military veterans and families.
This run started with only 2,500 riders but grew to be the largest single-day motorcycle event with over a million riders and spectators combined. People come from all over the country to see and ride, even club chapters from around the world come join in on the demonstration.
This year is said to be the last year Rolling Thunder Inc. will be organizing this event, due to many reasons. Two major causes were money based and lack of law enforcement cooperation. Muller said, “the Pentagon Security Police/Washington Police officials’ continued lack of cooperation, increased harassment to our supporters and sponsors.” The Pentagon security actually turned riders away; Rolling Thunder inc. national vice president Pete Zaleski said the selling of merchandise was also prohibited. Though this year D.C. Police and Defense Department did say they will welcome and support everyone, but with the issues faced and the fact the organization actually lost money ($20,000) last year in 2018. Due to times changing, the event will be ending and the meaning will be rethought/rearranged. Rolling Thunder will not be going away.
With the fate of Rolling Thunder most likely not happening in 2020, due to this year’s success, it may not be the last. Originally the group was planning on cancelling the D.C. Rolling Thunder event and bringing the cause nationwide, holding rides throughout the country within the 90 chapters. However, Donald Trump has given a generous offer of $200,000 to keep this event going next year. With the improvement of cooperation, the donation, and more, Rolling Thunder inc. has a lot to think about.
Will 2019 be the last storm to hear the thunder roll or will there be another?
Video song credit: “Blue on Black” by Five Finger Death Punch.
Cassidy Carroll, Co-Editor of the Colonel and Horizons
Senior Cassidy Carroll is a co-editor for the 2018-2019 Colonel newspaper and Horizons yearbook. She participates in varsity cross country, lacrosse, and track for LHS, while also being a member of NAHS. Outside of Ledyard, she’s often taking part in daring adventures…but she didn’t share any.