What a surprise Sunday afternoon (I was late) my TV was showing hours long of two lines of motorcycles riding over Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington D.C. There was little taking and every type and make of motorcycle available.
And memories came rushing back to the sixties.We lived in another part of the state and were starting our family. Built evening news brought the Viet Nam War into every living room.
Then pictures of protest, marches, speeches against the war. My husband's brother was there and one cousin flew airplanes over the War area.
What bothers me then and now were the elimination of 19-year olds. Who was to win this war? Why did Americans in the U.S.A. attack the "messenger"from the same country. Young men were drafted (not old enough to vote);even Elvis Presley and would be taken care of to come home alive as most knew.
Those fighting knew only a little about the hullabaloo at home. Some families disowned their sons. On we knew quite well.
Probably no on wanted older woman and children killed, but it took the soldiers little time to realize innocent looking enemies had bombs tied to their bodies that went off when an American soldier soldier was near, taking out more than just two.
I met a man and his late wife who were really a big part of Rolling Thunder, "the quietest noise ever heard" wrote one Washington reporter.
Veterans of this war are still around, a few, but their legs can't take the stop and go when rounding a Washington Building.
The veteran I knew had beautiful motorcycles and donated the last half of hit still active life to Rolling Thunder. First, an American flag was attached to the cycle. Then with supplies secured, this soldier rode first to a headquarters in California then it was time to ride to Washington D.C. All along the country, riders joined in from every part of the United States.
Gas Stations knowing they were coming would open all tanks of gas free fill ups.Cafeterias along the main route would let all riders ear at cost.They slept on the ground, in tents and a few motels. One school near their destination would have long tables of food for the riders enjoy.
Sometime the wives follow in pickups or even ride double.
The ride was also for full accountability for prisoners of war and those missing in action.
There are 90 chapters in this country. Another headquarters in in Branchburg, N.J.
Still. some of these riders were asked to come to funerals of someone associated with Viet Nam. Men and women held hands to form a giant circle around the building holding a service for the deceased. A long line of policemen lined up behind the volunteers. If one had a to leave, another stepped in place. Some rolling thunders were called to attend memorials or funerals or a vet when no one else showed. (Founders: Walt Sides, Ray Manza, John Holland, Ted Sampley)