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Rolling Thunder 2014 - Motorcycle Rally in Washington, DC

An Annual Memorial Day Event

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Rolling Thunder

Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Rolling Thunder is an annual motorcycle rally that is held in Washington, DC during the Memorial Day weekend to call for the government's recognition and protection of Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIAs). The tribute to American war heroes started out in 1988 with 2,500 participants. Now approximately 900,000 participants and spectators are involved with this annual demonstration in Washington, DC.

See Photos of Rolling Thunder

2014 Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Schedule

Friday, May 23, 2014
Candlelight Vigil - 9:00 p.m.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

Saturday, May 24, 2014
Wreathlaying Ceremony – 11:00 a.m.
U.S. Navy Memorial
701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC (On the Plaza)

Saluting Our Troops - Schedule to Be Announced
Henry Bacon Dr. and Constitution Ave.
The Stage is just north of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

Sunday, May 25, 2014
Rolling Thunder will assemble at the Pentagon Parking Lot - 7:00 a.m. - Noon.
Departure To Washington, DC - Noon
See a Map of the Route
Speaker Program - 1:30 p.m.
Musical Tribute - 3:00 p.m.
The Stage is located between the Reflecting Pool and the Korean War Memorial

Tips for Attending Rolling Thunder

  • The best viewing spots are along the Arlington Memorial Bridge and Constitution Avenue.
     
  • Streets will be closed along the route from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is limited. Public transportation is suggested. See a guide to using Metro. Stations nearby include Smithsonian, Metro Center, Judiciary Square, Federal Triangle and L'Enfant Plaza.
     
  • Bring food and water or expect to wait in line.
     
  • Dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes.
     
  • Take some time to pay tribute to America's war heroes by visiting the monuments and memorials on the National Mall.
     
  • Bring your patriotic spirit and enjoy the day!

Rolling Thunder History

Rolling Thunder began as a demonstration following the era of the Vietnam War, which was a difficult time in America's history. Similar to today's political climate, our nation was divided over issues of peace and war. However, many of America's military were killed or missing in action and their remains were not being brought home to be respectfully buried and honored. In 1988, veterans of the Vietnam War rallied together their families, fellow veterans, and veterans' advocates to organize a demonstration at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC during the Memorial Day weekend. They announced their arrival with the roar of their Harley-Davidsons, a sound not unlike the 1965 bombing campaign against North Vietnam named Operation Rolling Thunder. Approximately 2500 motorcycles participated in this rally, demanding that the U.S. government account for all POW/MIA's. The group became known as Rolling Thunder and each year since has held an annual "Ride for Freedom" to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Rolling Thunder Today

Rolling Thunder was incorporated as a class 501 C-4 non-profit organization and today has more than 100 chapters throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe. The group is actively involved year-round in promoting legislation to increase veteran benefits and resolve the POW/MIA issue from all wars. They also provide financial support, food, clothing and other essentials to veterans, veterans' families, veterans groups, and women's' crisis centers.

For more information about Rolling Thunder, visit their website at http://www.rollingthunderrun.com

See a guide to additional Memorial Day Events in Washington DC

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