The actual parade formation began leaving the Pentagon parking lot, on a hot sunny day at 1200 hours. However, due to the tremendous numbers of people involved, many were still forming in the parking lot after 4 in the afternoon. The veterans clubs were given 1st priority for leaving early. The first group to leave were the veteran organizers of the Rolling Thunder Parade. They were followed by the group named RFTW, (Run for the Wall). This group consisted of several hundred veteran bikers who had ridden across the country from California. Following those two starting groups were all other veteran's clubs which rode as club groups but in no particular precedence. The Parade itself was well attended by thousands of well wishers lining the curbs many of which were waving flags and calling out to us "Welcome Home". The welcome homes were especially poignant as most of us had been either ignored or vehemently abhorred by the general public when we came back. The parade and the ceremonies at the memorials were meant to heal and in a very important way they accomplished what they set out to do. I talked to many vets with gray hair and Korean and Vietnam medals who said they were ready to go back in and kick butt of those who would harm America.
As you all know, Darlene and I have just returned from the Memorial Day Ceremony known as Rolling Thunder. This gathering of military veterans and their families takes place annually in Washington D.C. It is a very large and meaningful grouping which involves hundreds of thousands of veteran motorcyclists from all over the world. It is almost a holy pilgrimage for most of the people attending and it attracts people from all over the country and even many foreign military veterans. The ending of this pilgrimage takes place at the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean and Vietnam Walls. Wreaths are placed at all the memorials with a large all day ceremony taking place at the Lincoln Memorial.
Hanging out with Pat and the Vietnamese at Rolling Thunder. This group is from Philadelphia.
Gunny James Gregory
I just wanted to share this picture I took on Sunday morning May 25, 2003. I was riding in the annual ride to the wall in Washington D.C. known as Rolling Thunder. I can tell you that I have never been so proud to be able to call myself a Marine, as I was when I saw this lone Marine standing in the middle of the street. He was standing there at attention, saluting until each and every motorcycle that participated in this event had gone by him. I don't know the exact amount of time that took, but I know that it was over three hours never moving from this position. After I took this and a few more pictures, a man stopped me and said "excuse me, I noticed you were taking pictures of the Marine there. You know he has been there all morning since before the first motorcycles rode past." I said I know, and he will be there until the last one rolls through. The man then said. "That's just amazing! That's an awesome show of strength, will and discipline." I looked at the man and said yes sir, and I couldn't be prouder to be able to call myself a Marine than I am right now.