The Washington Mall and the Pentagon rumbled with a quarter of millions of motorcycles on Sunday as Rolling Thunder rumbled into the capital.
Rolling Thunder is an annual motorcycle rally that is held in Washington, DC during the Memorial Day weekend to call for the government’s recognition and protection of Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIAs). The tribute to American war heroes started out in 1988 with 2,500 participants.
Some 900,000 riders, passengers and spectators traveled from across the country for Memorial Day weekend to pay tribute to veterans and those stilling missing in action.
The annual event started in 1988, when the Vietnam War was still fresh on the nation’s mind.
The first year, 2,500 motorcyclist rode into Washington as a way to remember the thousands of men who were missing in action or believed still held as prisoners of war.
The Washington Mall and the Pentagon rumbled with a quarter of millions of motorcycles on as Rolling Thunder rumbled into the capital
Rolling Thunder has since become an institution.
Motorcycle clubs from across the country flood the capital’s hotels and suburban campgrounds.
Every sort of bike imaginable is represented – from vintage Indians to the newest Harley Davidsons to custom choppers and BMWs.
The mighty procession began in the parking lot of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, at 7 a.m.
The parade route took the thundering motorcycles past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean Veterans Memorial and the World War II Veterans Memorial.
The Washington Monument and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial are other prominent sights along the route.
The motorcycle parade ends on the banks of the Potomac River on the National Mall.
The event also features Thunder Alley in downtown Washington DC, which features vendors selling all manner of stickers, pins and patches to commemorate Rolling Thunder.
President Barack Obama laid a wreath of flowers at Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday in a traditional gesture as Americans marked three days of Veterans Day commemorations.
Barack Obama was joined by the First Lady, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The President said the wreath-laying is a gesture to “remember every service member who has ever worn our nation’s uniform”.
He said in a speech at the cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater that America will never forget the sacrifice made by its veterans and their families.
Barack Obama also says that “no ceremony or parade, no hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that service”. He says the country must commit every day “to serving you as well as you’ve served us”.
Earlier, the Obamas and Bidens held a breakfast with veterans at the White House.
This year, Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, and the federal observance is on Monday.
President Barack Obama laid a wreath of flowers at Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday in a traditional gesture as Americans marked three days of Veterans Day commemorations
It’s the first such day honoring the men and women who served in uniform since the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011.
It’s also a chance to thank those who stormed the beaches during World War II – a population that is rapidly shrinking with most of those former troops now in their 80s and 90s.
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, a steady stream of visitors arrived Saturday morning as the names of the 58,000 people on the wall were being read over a loudspeaker.
Some visitors took pictures, others made rubbings of names, and some left mementos: a leather jacket, a flag made out of construction paper, pictures of young soldiers and even several snow globes with an American eagle inside.
A half-dozen women of various ages knitted intently near a pile of hand-made scarves while frail, silver-haired men sat waiting for a chance to tell their war stories Saturday as tourists and veterans filed into the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
The museum planned a series of events to celebrate the Veterans Day weekend.
The knitters had gathered to commemorate 1940s homefront efforts to supply World War II troops with warm socks and sweaters.
At the National Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, about 1,000 people including Cub Scouts and Gold Star Mothers gathered on a crisp fall day for a short ceremony.