Many of my friends are veterans who are very active in Rolling Thunder. They have been inviting me to ride to Washington DC each year since I began riding. The thought of 350,000 motorcycles in one place has always been a bit frightening! And there have always been obstacles preventing my attendance, you know... life's little adventures.
This is the description of Rolling Thunder, (found online):
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).
I had a potential obstacle this year too. Funding for the weekend. I have been saving every possible penny for my cross country ride and an additonal trip to DC just seemed out of the question. That is, until I took part in an escort ride for a wounded homecoming Marine last month. I saw the all call for bikes to go to Holyoke MA and thought, "I can do that." With my sunny outlook on the experience not knowing what to expect, I rode the 2 hours and pulled into the parking lot alone, to see at least 100 bikes already parked and waiting. A sudden wave of shyness overtook me and I pulled into the first parking space near the front. The thought of 'what had I gotten myself into' crossed my mind. There were vets, families of vets and even a mascot bulldog who was a gunner, I believe. :)
I sat quietly on my bright yellow bike and observed. The energy was palpable with all these leather clad bikers. I could feel a dynamic shift in my energy as I watched the bikes roll in with full sized US flags flying. Some had POW flags as well as the flags from the different facets of our military. I had goosebumps as it suddenly became clear to me.... that I had to attend Rolling Thunder, I HAD to experience it at least once. I pulled out my phone, sent a message to my husband saying as much. Then I sent a message to my friend Mickey in Virginia... all it said was, "Count me in!"
The escort ride for Marine Sgt Josh Bouchard was a powerful experience. Also surprising in a way, because I found that although I disagree with war, (I am the hippie chick flashing a peace sign every where I go) the respect I have for our citizens that dedicate their lives to our military is overwhelming. But I did not realize I would feel it so physically... my heart was pounding hard when we started to roll, taking some deep breaths to quiet down the noise it was making. The run was only about 4 miles. Every cross road had a firetruck protecting the parade. The firefighters were at attention as we passed by. As we rumbled into the downtown celebration, I could see that two hook and ladders had hoisted their ladders up and over the street to make an arch to ride under. From this arch was a huge US flag flying, I felt that I could have reached up and touched it as I went under- powerful is the only word that fits...
I have a feeling that this is only the tip of the iceberg of what I will be feeling when I take part in Rolling Thunder 2010, as I have been invited to be a Gold Star Escort and ride with Rolling Thunder National and will have a VIP passenger on my bike. I am honored and humbled to be able to do this. I have been told to pack kleenex, and be ready to be changed by it all....
Please check out the website www.rollingthunderrun.com
Thank you for reading!
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