It’s nearing “kickstands up” time for several hundred American Legion Riders, as they join an expected 100,000 or more fellow motorcyclists this weekend. The mass gathering of mostly military veteran motorcyclists on Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of Rolling Thunder, the annual Memorial Day weekend “Run to The Wall” in remembrance of fallen comrades and, more specifically, former prisoners of war and warriors listed as missing in action.
Although Legionnaires have been riding with the throng since the earliest days of Rolling Thunder, this is the first year of official Legion sponsorship and formally organized Legion Rider participation. Many of the Riders’ Memorial Day weekend activities are based at Legion Post 177 in Fairfax, Va., 18 miles from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (“The Wall”) where their two-wheeled pilgrimage will end Sunday afternoon.
Legion Riders from across the country are already converging on the Washington, D.C. area. They are invited to a Friday night dinner at the Fairfax post and a twilight ride to a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam War Memorial. Saturday begins with a breakfast and open house at the post, a “motorcycle rodeo” competition, all-afternoon barbeque, bike detailing by local Boy Scouts and a live band. A Legion Emblem Sales trailer will be parked at the post all day dispensing appropriate items, including Rolling Thunder pins and patches – the latter to be stitched on jackets and vests by volunteer seamstresses.
Sunday is to be more solemn. Bikers will begin lining up in the Post 177 parking lot at 5 a.m., with patriotic ceremonies beginning after breakfast at 7. A Legion Honor Guard and bagpipe band will set the mood before the group departs for the Pentagon parking lot, the Rolling Thunder staging area, for the noontime ride to “The Wall” and Memorial Day ceremonies.
The full schedule of Post 177’s Memorial Day weekend events and updates to the calendar can be viewed here.