Keeping with the spirit behind the Memorial Day celebration, the Rolling Thunder "Ride For Freedom" event is another fantastic way to honor those who have served for the United States. The focus, however, of the Rolling Thunder event is to draw attention to those soldiers who are either Missing In Action or listed as Prisoners of War, and it's pretty clear the 2013 ride, the organization's 26th annual, was a smashing success.
According to local news reports, over 500,000 riders participated in the Ride For Freedom. One spectator was able grab about two-plus minutes of the ride's footage--which is obviously not near enough to capture all of the riders who participated--but it does give you a good idea of why the event got its name:
Because many of the group's members are themselves veterans, the meaning behind the ride is very dear to them:
Standing alongside his Harley-Davidson, Pete Clark, 65, said this was his first year riding with Rolling Thunder and his first visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. As a Vietnam veteran himself, the McKinney, Texas, resident said he spent several hours at the memorial wall Saturday.
“It was emotional,” said Mr. Clark, who served as a staff sergeant in the Army. Despite the heartache, Mr. Clark said he was glad he traveled the hundreds of miles to be a part of Rolling Thunder.
“I just texted my wife to tell her I’m going to do this every year now,” he said.
If you need further indication of the event's importance to those who are involved, a simple trip through the Washington Post's photo gallery should suffice.