Rolling Thunder Rally, now called Rolling to Remember, will ride virtual on Memorial Day.
WASHINGTON D.C.- A veterans service organization is set to revive a decades-long Memorial ride that has drawn tens of thousands of riders from across the country for Memorial Day- and it will happen virtually.
Rolling Thunder, a massive annual motorcycle motorcade from the Pentagon to the National Mall, had a long-standing purpose of seeking accountability for missing servicemen and women. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 81,000 Americans are still listed as missing from wars, going back to WWII.
The Rolling Thunder organization has also been calling attention to the high rate of suicides among veterans. “Our suicide issue is most critical,” said USAF veteran and AMVETS National Commander Jan Brown. “We’re still seeing an average of 22 [suicides] a day and it may be higher than that.”
Then last year, it all ended, over rising permit costs and logistics conflicts with various government agencies. Even with President Trump’s pledge of support, the 2019 event was declared the last, after 32 years supporting military vets.
American Veterans (AMVETS) is a national organization dedicated to direct veteran support. They now have taken up the Rolling Thunder cause, and rebranded it “Rolling to Remember” to create a renewed interest and involvement in the event and cause.
On May 24, riders across America are encouraged to ride 22 miles throughout their own cities, towns and communities, to show support for veterans’ causes and call attention to critical issues facing our military vets and their families. CDR. Brown stated the organization was prepared to return to D.C. this year, but due to COVID-19 concerns and restrictions, riders across the country are asked to participate virtually.
“I’m glad we’re going on with something,” CDR. Brown stated. “We’ve worked close to 20 months to put this together pre-pandemic. It’s important we remember why we have Memorial Day.”
According to CDR. Brown, permits are already submitted for 2021, to return in-person to the Capital. To address permit costs, AMVETS will host fundraisers to facilitate the ride.
Here’s a list of virtual events leading up to AMVETS Rolling to Remember:
Friday, May 22: Evening vigil and wreath-laying at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Saturday, May 23: Two-hour Facebook Live program to educate and advocate for veteran issues. Gold Star family members and veterans are among interviewees discussing mental health and more. Musical guests include Rascal Flats. Secretary of the VA Robert Wilke will also be present.
Sunday, May 24: Patriotic ceremony (Up to 10 people) at AMVETS Headquarters in Lanham, MD, prior to the start of Rolling to Remember.