/ The DC Traveler
Washington DC — By Jon Rochetti on May 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm
Filed under: Events, featuredarticle, holidays, Memorial Day, National Mall

Rolling Thunder Remembers MIAs and POWs

Watch as more than a hundred thousand motorcyclists ride through the National Mall in Washington DC this Memorial Day weekend as part of Rolling Thunder.  The annual motorcycle rally supports U.S. soldiers that are missing in action (MIA) or prisoners of war (POW) from past and present wars.

Crossing the Arlington Memorial Bridge Rolling Thunder

In it’s 23rd year, Rolling Thunder brings vets, bikers, and supporters of our troops to DC for one of the biggest motorcycle events the in the country. It’s also a major fundraiser for veteran’s groups, veterans and their families.

Besides memorial vigils, speakers on Veterans Advocacy, music and countless motorcycles all tricked out, the Ride For Freedom is the highlight.  Starting at the Pentagon, a couple hundred thousand motorcyclists cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge and head up Constitution Avenue, making a lap around the Mall.  The noise is thunderous.

The main ride stars at noon on Sunday, with speakers and a musical tribute starting immediately afterward at 1:00 p.m., across from the Lincoln Memorial at the Reflecting Pool.

Some of the best places to watch the cyclist roll past is on the Memorial Bridge, anywhere on Constitution Avenue or on Third Street in front of the Capuitol Building  to get some great photos of the bikers as they pass.

But expect major traffic tie-ups on the National Mall Sunday morning, and absolutely no street parking as thousands and thousands of bikes invade the city.

Combat Vets Association - Rolling Thunder After the ride, head over to the reflecting pool for the speakers and musical tributes, including  performances from Nancy ‘These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ Sinatra, Gordon Painter, the Loch Rannoch Pipes & Drums and the U.S. Army Band Downrange.

Rolling Thunder started in 1988 when a Corporal in the Marines, Ray Manzo, wanted to bring focus to forgotten and unaccounted for American soldiers from the Vietnam War.

While near the Reflecting Pool, the year proior to starting Rolling Thunder, he spoke to a few veterans near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and asked for help in hosting a motorcycle rally on the National Mall to raise awareness and money for POW/MIA causes and their families.

Less than 3,000 riders attended the first rally 23 years ago, and today it’s grown by 100 times, with  close to 300,000 attendees expected this year.

Rolling Thunder is a site to see and all beneifts a cause we should all support – soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Rolling Thunder – National Mall – Reflecting Pool, Washington DC  (map)

Dates & Times - Sunday, May 30, 2010 – Noon – 3:00 p.m. Additional events occur all weekend.

Admission - FREE

Route – Starting point at The Pentagon, proceeds over the Arlington Memorial Bridge to  Constitution Ave, then to 3rd St. and down Independence Ave. to the Lincoln Memorial.

Nearest Metro Subway Station - Federal Triangle or Smithsonian – Blue and Orange lines, then a short walk or use the DC Circulator.

Parking & Traffic - Expect several rolling street closures near the Pentagon and around the National Mall from 8:00 a.m. until about 4:00 p.m.  Finding street parking after 10:00 a.m. will be almost impossible.

Images – FlickrCombat Vets, Crossing the Memorial Bridge

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Tags: Events, featuredarticle, holidays, Memorial Day, National Mall

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