Rolling Thunder 2009

Rolling Thunder 2009

Rolling Thunder is back. The annual motorcycle event, originally conceived to draw attention to the plight of Vietnam-era POWs and MIAs (“Operation Rolling Thunder” was the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam) but it has grown into a roaring tribute to all of America’s military veterans.

Contingents of cyclists come from across the country, and salutes roar past armed service monuments. The largest tribute starts at Noon Sunday at Arlington Cemetery, crosses the Potomac over the beautiful Memorial Bridge, circles the National Mall, and stops near the Vietnam Memorial, where many riders will dismount, then quietly look for the names of fallen comrades and loved ones on The Wall. Music and oratory will complete the afternoon.

Many Washingtonians bring cameras to the DC end of Memorial Bridge to shoot “The Ride for Freedom,” but many hesitate to photograph dismounted riders at the Vietnam Memorial — it feels emotionally wrong, an invasion of privacy. But do go to The Wall. Unlike the triumphal military monuments spread across the Capital City, it does not glorify war, but memorializes sacrifice in a profoundly human way.


For more on the meaning of the National Vietnam Memorial, read The Last Firebase, by Lydia Fish.

Image by Mike Licht.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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One Response to “Rolling Thunder 2009”

  1. Mike Licht Says:


    List of road closures through 4PM.

    Best photos so far have been posted by Flickr contributor Session5.

    Here’s a video from unclejimbomadcity and another from Associated Press.

    Buffalo Thunder mustered the weekend, and Herb of DC blogged about it.

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