Diana Belchase

83,000 Americans Still Missing as Rolling Thunder Calls it Quits

Missing in action. What horrible words for loved ones to hear. The acronyms “POW” and “MIA” strike fear in the heart of the most stalwart military family. It is hard to believe that as 2018 draws to a close there are still approximately 83,000 Americans who are unaccounted for. The vast majority of these soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel are listed as prisoners of war (POW), missing in action (MIA), or lost at sea, during WWII, Vietnam and other U.S. military actions. Now, the most powerful organization bringing awareness to MIAs, POWs, and to other veteran’s issues, Rolling Thunder, has announced it’s calling it quits in D.C. because of untenable logistical problems. Seeing Rolling Thunder come to an end is heartbreaking.

(c) Diana Belchase

Many of you have seen my posts here and on Facebook about Rolling Thunder. It is a a veterans’ organization composed almost entirely of motorcycle enthusiasts. Each year the ground literally shakes as they roll past my door. Hundreds of thousands of motorcycles all with one destination: The Vietnam Memorial.

You’d think it would be utter chaos, but D.C. weathers demonstrations nearly every day of the week. We’re used to marches for every cause, some other large ones being the Million Women march in the past two years, and the Pro Life marches on the anniversary of Roe v Wade.

The Rolling Thunder “Ride for Freedom” is a dedicated, closed-off, pre-set route through Washington, D.C. They leave the Pentagon parking lot for the National Cathedral for a blessing, then off they go to the various D.C. monuments with speeches at the Lincoln Memorial and ending finally at the Vietnam Wall.

They’ve been demonstrating since 1988 in D.C. With over 90 chapters in the U.S. as well as overseas, Rolling Thunder is perhaps the largest and most vocal advocate of servicemen and women who are still unaccounted for. They ride every year on the Sunday before Memorial Day. What a great cause, right? But with costs spiraling out of control, and huge amounts of red tape at the Pentagon where the bikes are usually parked (after paying a huge fee, mind you), the demonstration will group for one last time on May 26, 2019 after 32 years.

Charles Bibby and his children Hold POW MIA flags (courtesy of Library of Congress)

There is something majestic about these folks as they ride by. U.S. flags and MIA/POW black banners often flutter behind them. They don’t interfere with traffic or cause problems. Their cause is one that often gets buried and so incredibly important. I hope they will change their minds and that D.C. will work to keep them here where they belong. If not, I wish them well and hope you’ll all make plans to follow their last jaunt in 2019. I, for one, will be watching.

2 replies »

  1. Well done, guys. America is with you in your cause. Of all the causes for which people actively raise awareness in DC, this one trumps all of them.

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