Since 2012, American Legion Post 177 in Fairfax, Va., has hosted American Legion Riders from all over the nation who have traveled to the Beltway for Rolling Thunder activities. That isn’t changing this year, with registration already open for 2019’s Rolling Thunder activities.
But 2019 may have a nostalgic feeling to it. The national organization, Rolling Thunder Inc., has publicly stated that 2019 will be the last "Ride for Freedom” into the Pentagon, and that it will no longer be coordinating a national event over Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, D.C. A December 2018 letter signed by Rolling Thunder Inc. National Executive Director Artie Muller and National President Joe Bean stated that starting in 2020, state Rolling Thunder chapters will coordinate similar demonstrations at the local level over Memorial Day Weekend.
National American Legion Riders Advisory Committee Chairman Bob Sussan said the end of any national Rolling Thunder event won’t deter Legion Riders from continuing to bring awareness to the POW-MIA issue.
“The American Legion and The American Legion Riders are dedicated to our veterans, their families and the community,” Sussan said. “Some of our comrades, our family members, have not returned from the wars and conflicts that our great nation has been involved in. The purpose of The American Legion Riders’ 'Run to the Thunder' is to honor those brave men and women and demand their full accounting and return home. We, The American Legion Riders, will never forget and will annually ride over Memorial Day Weekend to keep a focus on our POW/MIAs.”
Meanwhile, American Legion Riders Chapter 177 Director Bruce Mersereau said his post is planning events like it has in past years. That includes the annual Friday night dinner and POW ceremony, the escorted ride to the candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery and the Ride to the Thunder on Sunday morning. The post also will have vendors and host special guests throughout the weekend, including Gold Star families.
Post 177 is asking all Riders to register. There is no registration fees, but a $10 option is available to help defray costs.
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