Rolling Thunder will keep on rolling.
This year Rolling Thunder leadership, citing costs and communication issues, said 2019 would be its final ride. But Connecting Vets has learned veterans service organization AMVETS is stepping up to fill the gap and continue the annual Washington, D.C. event.
Rolling Thunder, an advocacy group focused on raising awareness of prisoners of war and missing in action service members, is best known for its annual event the Sunday before Memorial Day. Thousands of members of the group complete the “First Amendment Demonstration Run” or “Ride for Freedom,” a slow motorcycle ride on a set route in Washington, D.C. from the Pentagon, over the Memorial Bridge and ending at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for POW/MIAawareness.
The group held its first demonstration in 1988 and came together as a group in 1995. It has more than 90 chapters across the U.S. and in other countries.
“We believe in the mission 100 percent,” Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS, told Connecting Vets in an exclusive interview. “We think it’s vitally important that our nation knows we are not forgetting those who remain missing or are still unaccounted for.”
An eight-page permit to conduct a special event or demonstration at the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C., obtained by Connecting Vets, shows that AMVETS plans to hold the event next year.