Rolling Thunder: distinctively American

By Cyndi Cramblett, Government Affairs Associate OOIDA's DC office

It’s become an American ritual. Hundreds of thousands of American motorcyclists from across the United States wash, scrub and polish their bikes until the chrome sparkles – and point their manicured two-wheelers toward the nation’s capital.

Many end their ride at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known as The Wall.

Again this year, it’s being reported that nearly 500,000 men and women gathered at the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally in Washington, DC, on Memorial Day to honor the POWs and MIAs, “lest they be forgotten.” 

I live in DC, and the event dominated the news here. Some of the media seemed to focus on Sarah Palin, analyzing her participation in the event. I was more interested in two individuals I hold dear to my heart – my two brothers.

Lewie Pugh is an OOIDA Board member and a former six-year member of the Army Reserves, and J.T. Cramblett is currently a soldier with the Ohio National Guard with one deployment to Iraq under his helmet. These two complete my idea of men who encompass the true American spirit.

Lewie has made the ride six years in a row to participate in the event in DC, and during year four he recruited J.T. This year the two Harley riders rode 330 total miles from Ohio to DC, enduring eight rainstorms before reaching Virginia.  

Once in DC they joined the thousands of bikers at the Pentagon to pay their respects to the nation’s veterans by crossing the Arlington Memorial Bridge and making a lap around the National Mall. Many of the bikes had the familiar black and white POW/MIA flag fixed to their saddlebags, and the men and women sported the same symbol on their clothing. This was truly an all-American parade. Lewie and J.T.’s unwavering determination to participate in the event shows their belief in the message of Rolling Thunder. This respect and determination make me proud to call them my brothers.

So, as you light up your grills this Fourth of July holiday, think about the men and women who have served our country. Let’s be forever mindful of those who have returned home and of those who were not so fortunate, but are missed every day by their family and friends. LL