Saturday, June 04, 2005


Sunday, May 29
Washington, DC

Today the Thunder came to town. Marcia and I decided on rock & roll parking, instead of leaving the car at DuPont Circle and taking the Metro over to Foggy Bottom, so we drove right up to the spot where a river of bikes was streaming onto Constitution Avenue. We parked and walked over to Memorial Bridge to watch - no, experience - thousands of riders on chrome horses thunder between two huge gilded horses flanked by gilded warriors at the gates of the bridge. They took a left at the Lincoln Memorial and then continued on to Constitution. There was a strip along Constitution where they were able to gun their engines and fire down the straightaway in all their glory.

Lord, they raised a joyful noise! There's nothing like the sound of a big pack of big bikes. It's the sound of... America.

Later on at Valerie's impromptu soiree in Georgetown, everyone was talking about Rolling Thunder. It turns out we were all there - the whole posse - watching the spectacle from different vantage points between the Pentagon parking lot and the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall.

Many of the bikes flew the big black POW/MIA flag alongside the Stars and Stripes. In fact, Rolling Thunder exists to remind us that America has a long-standing policy of abandoning Prisoners of War - for reasons that are beyond shameful. Rolling Thunder is a demonstration of the kind of dedication to a cause that makes me proud to be an American - screaming into the teeth of government lies, year after year. And year after year it gets bigger and louder.

Memorial Day. The day we honor our fallen soldiers.

The fact that soldiers are dying this very day saddens me beyond words. The fact that American men and women are being put in harm's way without proper armor fills me with rage. The fact that we have systematically abandoned POWs for decades and decades utterly appalls me. Extended duty, cuts in benefits, forgotten and homeless veterans... it all makes me hang my head in shame.

Memorial Day, and I'm remembering things I'd rather forget. Things that are wrong with my country that need to be made right. Things that require courage and commitment. The kind it takes to move thousands of motorcycles across thousands of miles, year after frustrating year, to remind the rest us of our fallen - and abandoned - brothers and sisters.

* First published on RIDER'S JOURNAL, Sunday, May 29, 2005