On Sunday morning in the north parking lot of the Pentagon, a sea of motorcycles and people gathered for the 30th running of Rolling Thunder – a tradition that started in 1987 with about 2,500 participants. This year, the event drew close to a million people, including the riders and the supporters lining the streets to cheer them on.

IMAGEL SecVA & SecState

Tillerson and Shulkin joined thousands of fellow riders at the Pentagon.

Participants are primarily Veterans or motorcycle riders, but neither are a requirement to be part of the event, because Rolling Thunder isn’t a motorcycle rally; its a demonstration. The purpose behind Rolling Thunder is to remind the government their responsibility for prisoners of war and those still missing in action. The demonstration demands accountability until each person comes home.

The event originally got its name from the 1965 bombing campaign in North Vietnam, “Operation Rolling Thunder.” Now, its even more fitting as anyone in a five mile radius of the riders can hear the Harleys pouring into Washington.

Among the riders were Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“There’s nothing like this,” Shulkin said. “Its fantastic. What an honor to be here to be able to give our appreciation and remember those that have served in our great country.” After visiting with Veterans at the Pentagon, he helped lead the way to the National Mall on his own motorcycle. “I’m riding. Couldn’t keep me off my Harley.”

While the original intent of Rolling Thunder lives on, it has become much more. It symbolizes patriotism, remembrance, and honor for all service members. Riders wear the name’s of fallen comrades on their vests, and patches are dedicated to their service. Each rider was there to support the cause of Rolling Thunder, but each rode with their own story of sacrifice and honor.

Crowd at Pentagon

Bikers and supporters stage at the Pentagon north parking lot in preparation for the 30th running of Rolling Thunder.

Texas Adopt-A-Veteran programTeaching the next generation: Third graders, Texas Veterans honor fallen heroes
IMAGE: Christopher Hill Sr. standing next to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery entrance.Army Veteran continues to serve while remembering the fallen at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

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8 Comments

  1. Debby June 3, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    God Bless all the American Riders who have not forgotten!!

    I would love to participate in the “Run for the Wall” ” Rolling Thunder.” Can any NE Ohio Vets tell me where you all meet at? Or is ther a vet bike group in my “Lake county Ohio” area?

  2. lewis cook June 3, 2017 at 7:41 am

    So where do i fit in as i am, the cold war 1979 us army volunteer and the 1982 666usm corp volunteer who shook the hand of GOD in 1986 in la calif city of angels/on us soil thus the ww3 pending cold war ended 1989 as i cannot even get a pension from electrode brain einsteins post cold war 666 navakl airforce tv govt system that 666 reagan was to stop when he did the 11 sep 2001 to have been followed by the mandatory mark of the biblical 6
    66 beast

  3. Juan A. Martinez June 3, 2017 at 1:51 am

    From one fellow U.S.Air Force Vet to all my fellow Vets, I salute you! To old t ride anymore but I use to ride and loved every minute of it. Back then Rolling Thunder wasn’t even thought of, let alone a virtual reality. My hat is off to all of you! Ex-Airman Juan Martinez.

  4. Gloria Jean Adams June 2, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    This is the most awesome event for the Veterans as we need to bring them home. Yes I do believe they have M/C on their drivers license. God Bless America!!!!

  5. J. Brown June 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Mr. VA Secretary, When is the Disabled Veterans pay going to increase?

  6. Harrison Balze June 2, 2017 at 10:07 am

    I saw the photo of the Sec. Of State and the Sec. Of Veteran’s Affairs posing in their leather vests. Somehow I just can’t picture either one of these guys as bikers. Does anybody out there really think that either one of them actually has a M/C endorsement on their drivers license.

    • Allen Hahn June 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      No good deed goes unpunished. Who cares if they have an endorsement. Both of these people were doing the right thing in support of our veterans and this cause. Where was the press during this event with almost a million people involved? We need more of these positive things reported.

  7. Charles B. Bellew, SSG (ret) June 1, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Took part in 2008. I cannot think of any way to explain the feeling of being with so many patriots on motorcycles. I have never felt so humble and proud at the same time. And then all the bikes started up and I felt the vibration coming up from the pavement. Just WOW. Also the feeling when riding down Pennsylvania Avenue between the spectators lining both sides is something very few people can describe. I certainly can’t. To me, Rolling Thunder was the perfect finish to doing the Run For The Wall.

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