Monday, May 30, 2011

24th Rolling Thunder First Amendment Ride Through Washington

This was the scene of Rolling Thunder XXIV, May 29th 2011!
Rolling Thunder began in 1987 as a demonstration to bring awareness to the plight of prisoners of war (POW) and to those missing in action (MIA). Rolling Thunder originated when four Vietnam Veterans, exercising the First Amendment "Right to Petition and Assemble," organized the first group of 2,500 motorcycles to ride through the streets of Washington, DC. This first Rolling Thunder run was made in an attempt to petition the government to take responsibility for the soldiers that were abandoned after the Vietnam War ended.

Thanks To The Brave!! And Thanks to Southern Bike Night TV for posting their season finale - Rolling Thunder XXIII interview in 2010 with Artie Muller, national executive director and one of the founders of Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration. 

There was an official count of 500,000 motorcycles in the demonstration and in the parking lot, with an estimated crowd total of 900,000 for the 2009 Ride Through Washington and that number was expected to top one million by 2010 or 2011. 

Rolling Thunder 2011 - Former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin announced last week that she would be kicking off a new "One Nation" bus tour over Memorial Day weekend 2011 in Washington DC. 

There was speculation that she might join the Rolling Thunder First Amendment Ride Through Washington, and she did.The 24th Rolling Thunder Run was Sunday, May 29th and Ms. Palin was among riders close to the front, riding on the back of a black Harley-Davidson. She apparently did not make prior arrangements with organizers of the massive ride, creating a lot of confusion and delaying the ride, when she came to the front of the Pentagon's north parking lot, where event staff and press were assembled. 

“I’m very not appreciative of the way she came in here,” Ted Shpak, Rolling Thunder’s national legislative director, said in a press interview. “If she wanted to come on the ride, she should have come in the back.”

Rolling Thunder has evolved to be not only a demonstration for the POW/MIA issue but also a demonstration of patriotism and respect for soldiers and veterans from all wars. With the approaching 10th anniversary of 9/11 there is even more emphasis on the broader cause of honoring patriotic heroes.

Related Rolling Thunder video post  

This year, about 80 riders including U.S. Rep. Allen West, NBC4's Jim Vance, and 105.9 The Edges' Mike O'Meara participated in a ride on Friday to RFK Stadium, two miles east of DC to kick off a new 4-day event, Stars, Stripes & Spokes  that also featured military equipment and vehicle displays, camping, concerts and vendors.

 A Stars, Stripes & Spokes custom bike was built by Sterling, Virginia Hardcore Choppers and is being raffled off to benefit veteran programs at Walter Reed Hospital.

Photos courtesy of friends at the 2011 Rolling Thunder and Stars, Stripes & Spokes.

Posted by MJ Lloyd Reynolds/MJR Media marketing services for the motorcycle industry -