A couple of days ago, I noticed the slightest change in the sounds of the 'hood. Being the son of a jet engine mechanic, and then a maintainer myself (and yes, a "boy"), I notice the sounds of cars and trains and planes. Most of us (boys!) begin identifying these sounds at the age of 4 or 5 (easily!). One sound many of us relate to is the sound of the UH-1 Huey helo as it alone captures our imaginations as it whop whop whop's its way across our sky. But this ... this was another sound. A low, thud thud thud'ing ... almost a word, po-ta-to, po-ta-to, po-ta-to ...
Then it dawned on me ... it was THAT time -- How could I have let it slip up on me??
ROLLING THUNDER XXV !!
And that sound? It's hundreds of Twin-V cylinder motorcycles coming to DC like moths to a flame. Harleys. Hogs. (and a few rice rockets, too) Traveling in pairs or all alone, some pulling cycle-trailers, all sporting their "colors" from whence they come. From anywhere and wherever. It's the elderly gentleman down the street with his old Indian (now That's a bike). It's the pony-tailed 60-year old with the beautiful roses in his yard, and his Marlon Brando Harley with wide tires and large flared fenders. It's the long-haul CFX truck driver home from the road, wiping down the shaft-drive, stick shift 1942 BMW that his father brought back from "the big war" that has just enough life in it for a ride, once a year. It's the 45 year old (22 at heart) who has the finest Harley around, and knows it -- how else can he get away with wearing that dang Viking helmet with horns?
Everyone is tuning their bikes, their Hogs, their wheels. They've found their leathers, they've got their floppy hats and sleeveless leather vests festooned with patches from places and battles and postings, from all over the world ... and one other thing. They've put a couple of 12x20 inch flags on their machines. One, a brand new and brite, Stars and Stripes. The other? The somber black and white with bowed head silhouette, remembering our Prisoners of War/Missing in Action. From all wars, in all conflicts, in every theater of operation.
They have differing views on each of our country's engagements -- be sure of that, but nary one rider in Rolling Thunder will have a terse word for those who have served, are serving, or whom will serve our country. Last year alone, that was over Four-Hundred-THOUSAND riders. They ride so no one forgets the POW/MIA; and now, "Rolling Thunder not only honors and remembers those who fought in Vietnam, but also honors the servicemen and women in uniform who are now serving our nation, protecting and defending our liberty and democracy."
Folks, if ever there were a group out there for our wives and husbands, know that this disparate group of motorcycles riders holds a special kindred spirit for them and what they're doing all over the globe.
Do me a personal favor will you? Many of these riders won't make it to DC this year, so instead will ride in small groups where some locales may misinterpret their meaning and their ideas. When you see them -- Stop. Wave. Put your hand on your heart and then (for you gals) blow 'em a kiss. They ride ...
... for our spouses. And they ride for those who are still awaiting an accounting of a loved one.
Lest we forget ...
Happy Memorial Day to all that I have had the privilege to serve with; to those who ride this weekend -- be safe my friends, be safe; and to those that I've not had the privilege to look in the eye, for giving of yourselves like I will never again be asked to give--you too, be safe.
Over and Out, Maintenance Toad One