Sunday, May 26, 2019

Rolling Thunder XXXII: The end of an era.

May 26th, 2019 a day many will remember for a long, long time.

Each year since 1987 thousands upon thousands of bikers, serious and weekenders have gathered in Washington DC to honor our fallen from Vietnam. To some of us they are brothers and sisters and to others simply honorable men and women deserving of some respect.

I remember somebody telling me once, years and years ago, that this was the only day of the year that a Harley rider and a Honda rider could ride abreast and not have trouble start.

It would be impossible I suppose to know just how many have ridden by The Wall. In 1987, five years after The Wall was dedicated, roughly 2500 participated in the first ever ride. In 2018 more than 800,000 made the solemn journey. So the total that has participated is, easily, in the millions, perhaps tens of millions.

So, why is number 32 so special?

Because it will be the last.

Rolling Thunder, inc. will no longer sponsor or be involved in the iconic event. There is talk of local groups sponsoring rides in their areas, so local DC groups may well try to create a ride in DC. That remains to be seen, I guess.

The event grew from the first relatively small ride to a multi day event each Memorial Day weekend and its purpose was to keep the issue of POW/MIAs in front of the government. Well, I don't believe that any serious person believes that there are any POWs anymore and the US and Vietnam have been working diligently for many years to recover MIAs, so perhaps the original goals have been met. Or, maybe it is just that we are all in our 70's now and the trips across country have just become too much and that is why it is ending with this 32nd ride. There may well be other reasons and we may never know them.

At the most recent annual meeting of Vietnam Veterans of America, one of the issues discussed was the end of Vietnam Veterans of America. VVA has done yeomans work in helping 'Nam vets and others and is planning for the passing on of programs etc to a younger generation. After all in 10 years we will be in our 80s and not likely to be attending meetings etc, as easily as today, so we are planning now to carry on the good works of VVA.

So, the end is nigh and if you have always wanted to participate or witness this remarkable event, this is your last chance. Get yourself to DC and be a part of history.

Next time, on the 30th, the real Memorial Day, I'll have one more post about Memorial Days, so join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

To see memorials from any state, please click the state name on the left side of this page.

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