Shortly after 6 a.m. Saturday, I’ll wheel my Harley Super Glide out of the garage, fire her up, and head for the Cracker Barrel at Troutville to meet up with veterans on their way to Washington and Rolling Thunder 22.
It will be my first visit to Rolling Thunder in 11 years: 11 years too long. That event that brings a half million motorcycle riders — most of them vets — to Washington as an annual reminder of the debt that all Americans owe to those who served their country.
I was lucky enough to be there when Rolling Thunder started 22 years ago. I photographed it, reported on it, and wondered then if there would be a Rolling Thunder Two. It has continued — and grown — ever since. I went to the first 11. My last was in 1998.
It doesn’t matter if you agree with war or not. It doesn’t matter if you are Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, independent or a political agnostic. Memorial Day is a time when we remember and honor those who served and those who died in wars just and unjust, popular or unpopular, legal or illegal. From the Colonial volunteer who fought in the American Revolution to the men and women serving and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan: All serve their country in ways most Americans can never image.
If you have a veteran in your family or know one that served in the armed forces, take a moment this weekend to stop and say "Thank You." And when you see that man or woman ride by with an American flag flying from their motorcycle, give them a wave. Odds are, they earned it.