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Memorial Day’s Rolling Thunder

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Vietnam memorial soldiers by Frederick Hart, Washington, D.C. Photograph by Carol Highsmith, c2009.

There are many events scheduled in Washington DC for Memorial Day. The one I most look forward to is the annual Rolling Thunder’s Ride for Freedom.  It is truly moving to witness the tens of thousands of motorcycles that travel from the Pentagon, cross the Memorial Bridge, and end at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. There are actually hundreds of thousands of riders who attend the weekend long event.  Some riders, such as the Flame of Freedom chapter, come from as far away as California.

Memorial Day, Vietnam Memorial, Washington, D.C.


You can hear Rolling Thunder’s rally a mile away. The rumble and roar of the bikes penetrate the air and it feels as if the reverberation is moving through your bloodstream. Your heart feels like it is beating in time with the revs of all those engines. As the riders pass by you can see their faces, which makes you want to smile, clap, and cry at the same time. You are reminded why they are riding- they want us “not to forget” our Prisoners-of -War and Missing-in -Action (POW- MIA) and to pay respect to those who have lost their lives during war. You can read more about Rolling Thunder’s history and mission on its website .  If you cannot make it to DC, there are many videos of past rallies on YouTube.

 As you can tell, motorcycles play an important part in Rolling Thunder’s mission. Without a doubt, they would not get the same effect if they were simply riding in cars. Since many of Rolling Thunder’s members ride Harley Davidson motorcycles, I’d like to point out that the Library honored the company’s 100th Anniversary with the Hog Heaven online exhibit , complete with image galleries, articles, links and print resources.

Butte Motorcycle Club, c1914


Comments (5)

  1. Jennefer Harbster
    I like your three words…seems very poetic
    That expresses as well my feelings …
    On the Memorial Day

    Mothers’ Tears Can’t Dry
    Until They Die

    Why war exists in happy lands?
    In gulfs, in deserts, and in mountains highs.

    Why mothers should cry for handsome sons ?
    Cover their graves before they die!

    Why! Why! Why!—
    And endless why?

    We have incessant creations in life.
    Why can’t we silence murderers in hive?

    Why should soldiers die?
    Mothers will cry; tears will never dry.

    Till they reach, where their beats went lie
    Wherever they lay, echoes stay calling Why!

    Mothers’ losses can’t be replaced
    In known—dishonest, fiery wide space.

    Which chromosome started cruel wars?
    Criminal genes rein endless crosses…
    Roses on bays.

    The mother beloveds straggled in life.
    Homes distorted impossible to revive.

    Mothers are mothers wherever they are,
    Tears will not dry until they die!

    June 14, 2006

    Sylva Portoian, MD

    From her Collections…
    ” My Sons; Take My Heart and Transplant”
    ISBN: 978-1-4363-6475-9

  2. Another ‘Memorial Day’ at the new millennium

    I respect for what every
    Honest man writes on every new site—
    About the War in Afghanistan…

    Russian advised the American
    “You can never win there
    We have tried before…failed”
    You lost many soldiers and
    You will lose more…your youth
    Those innocents…pure breeds

    This is what the Ottomans did
    For unarmed Armenians in 1915-1923 
    And more and more before
    Since the Seljuks invaded Anatolia
    In the 11th century…onwards
    It was a civilized land
    With endless artful altars
    Before BC and after

    And they still continue to do…
    The same scimitarative way
    Still our genocide is not recognized
    By the MP’s…congress
    Playing games after games 

    Gagging the mouths
    By their liras and their flags

    The statue of Liberty…standing high
    It is only a statue
    Can’t verse…Can’t cry…!

    Still the new Ottomans doing
    The same to the muslim Kurds…

    And you should know that 
    Pakistani blood thirsty militants 
    Killed one and half million ‘Muslim Bengalis’ 
    Which began at the night of March 25,1971

    I think Americans read well 
    But still illiterate and arrogant
    To whats going around them
    They lost 5000 soldiers
    And celebrate Memorial Day…?
    And another thousands are handicapped…
    And their mothers and families living in despair
    Paying cents to get medicines…drugs…

    Can any friend analyze 
    Why the USA government
    Celebrate A Memorial Day
    Which was only yesterday… 
    And repeat the same mistakes…!
    I can never understand for what ? 
    To Eat…Cry…and Play…!

    I will roar…
    Till I reach the sand 
    For the Humans’ Rights
    And for the masked ‘First Genocide’ 

    Where innocents’ pieces of skulls 
    After nearly a century 
    Are still shinning 
    Under Der-Zor sky…!

    June 1, 2011

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