Rolling Thunder 2019 – Is it Really the End of the Ride for Freedom?
Rolling Thunder 2019 is billed as the last of the bike runs for Veterans who wish to bring awareness of POW/MIAs. In December of 2018, we wrote that the Bikers at Rolling Thunder would roar no more due to the exorbitant costs and difficulties with the Pentagon and DC Police. But President Trump may have intervened in a couple of cryptic tweets from this weekend as he was in Japan. It sounds as though the Pentagon has worked something out.
The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, & hopefully for many years to come. It is where they want to be, & where they should be. Have a wonderful time today. Thank you to our great men & women of the Pentagon for working it out!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2019
Can’t believe that Rolling Thunder would be given a hard time with permits in Washington, D.C. They are great Patriots who I have gotten to know and see in action. They love our Country and love our Flag. If I can help, I will!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2019
Rolling Thunder has been an annual event in Washington DC since 1988, and their “Ride for Freedom” carried the banner “We will Never Forget.” It began with just 2,000 – 3,000 bikers, and grew to 500,000 – 600,000 (or more). They ride on Memorial Day weekend to bring awareness to those Americans who were never found – the POW/MIAs. There are reportedly 82,000 Americans still unaccounted for.
Many of the bikers are Vietnam Veterans. Over the years more veterans and other patriots, even Canadian veterans, joined them to become the huge event that it has been this weekend. But Rolling Thunder 2019 was billed as the last of its kind. Is it?
The organizers had difficulties over the permits for the event, hassles by the DC police and Pentagon over parking, and the costs of having that many motorcycles in DC continued to rise. They were unable to obtain a corporate sponsor for the ride, and shelling out as much as $200,000 for last year’s run was too much. They stated on their website that “The organization will continue to bring awareness to the public, in years to come, with regional demonstrations.”
Event leader Artie Muller told Stripes in 2018,
“We’re collecting money to help veterans, troops and their families, and spending $200,000 on a run? I can’t justify that.”
Today is the rally day, and will end with a concert. The sight of hundreds of thousands of motorcycles, most sporting American and POW/MIA flags is a spectacle that will live in the hearts of all who experienced it. The organizers say this is the last of its kind. But President Trump says… the Pentagon may have worked something out. It’s that lesson- never give up and never give in.
All photos are screenshots from YouTube video posted by Patrick J. Hughes as a preview of this year’s event on May 19.