Thu, 20 Jun 2019

'Rolling Thunder' Roars Into Washington for Last Time

Voice of America
27 May 2019, 07:35 GMT+10

Thousands of motorcycles roared into Washington Sunday for what organizers say will be the last Rolling Thunder in the nation's capital.

The annual Memorial Day tradition is meant to draw attention to more than 83,000 U.S. military personnel still listed as Missing in Action from World War I through the recent fighting in Iraq. They also include 126 people believed missing from operations related to the Cold War.

The first Rolling Thunder was held in 1988. The cyclists usually meet up in the Pentagon parking lot and ride into downtown Washington across the various bridges spanning the Potomac River.

But Rolling Thunder Executive Director Artie Muller said this is the last year he will hold the ride in Washington.

Muller said he has grown frustrated with the Pentagon bureaucracy in coordinating the event. Mueller said sponsors, vendors and others have not been given access to parking lots even though Rolling Thunder said it paid 'exorbitant permit fees.'

Watch: Rolling Thunder in DC

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For many people, the group's decades-long presence with the loud roar of their motorcycle engines has become synonymous with Memorial Day activities in Washington.

But President Donald Trump says Rolling Thunder is always welcome in the city.

'The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder will be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, and hopefully for many years to come. It is where they want to be and where they should be,' Trump tweeted as he thanked the 'great men & women of the Pentagon for working it out.'

Mueller has not given any immediate response to Trump's tweet.

Pentagon figures show 83,000 American military personnel remain unaccounted for. Most of them -- about 73,000 -- are from World War II. Upwards of 7,700 are from the Korean War, and more than 1,600 are from the Vietnam War.

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