Rolling to Remember military tribute continues despite rainy Memorial Day weekend

WASHINGTON - Some feared the ride would be canceled, but a sea of motorcycles rolled through the county Sunday during the 2021st Rolling to Remember rally. 

Posted  177 Views updated 4 months ago

Thousands of veterans left RFK Stadium at noon and rode down the National Mall, hoping to draw attention to POWs and the more than 80,000 soldiers who remain unaccounted for. 

One of the organizers of the rally, American Veterans Veterans National Commander (AMVETS) Ian Brown, told FOX 5 TV that because of this activity, the uncle of his friend who died at Pearl Harbor was identified.   

"He'll come home probably in July and he'll be buried on his 100th birthday in his hometown in West Virginia," said Brown, who was thrilled after working with the family on this for a decade.

"The fact that you know this is happening means a lot to me. Because I know it means a lot to them," Brown said.

The Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, held Memorial Day weekend, has been coming through the county since the 1980s. 

A couple of years ago, AMVETS took over and renamed the memorial motorcycle rally "Rolling to Remember." Brown said that last year many veterans were unable to participate because of the pandemic. 

This year, it was feared the event would almost not take place. A few weeks ago, Defense officials confirmed they would not authorize the reunion at the Pentagon due to the ongoing COIVD19 pandemic.

This prompted organizers to seek help. According to FOX 5, D.C. leaders stepped in and arranged the event at RFK Stadium. 

"That's right," said Ohio Wine Chuck Clark, "letting them know we're not going anywhere is very important to us. So. The fact that we couldn't be last year really hurt us, because we have to continue to let everybody know what we've done for our country and the rights that we deserve." 

Veteran Kevin West told FOX 5 television network, "As a combat veteran. It's one minute, viral, compared to other situations we've been in."

For AMVETS National President Tom McNamara, those dangerous situations included flying in air ambulance helicopters while serving in Iraq. 

"Within a year I came back from Iraq, got divorced and then retired from the military, and the whole thing hit me," McNamara said, referring to another theme of this year's rally: suicide prevention and awareness among veterans. 

McNamara said the country loses about 22 veterans to suicide every day, and veteran suicides have worsened during the pandemic. McNamara said he came close to becoming one of those victims if not for a friend. 

"He told me about the wall. And it was after that when I went for help. There's no shame in asking for help," McNamara told FOX 5 TV. 

Those going Sunday are hoping members of Congress will hear their stories. And if not their stories, they'll hear the roar of their engines. Activists are calling on lawmakers to ensure veterans receive the financial support our military community needs. 

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