2018 Rolling Thunder XXXI First Amendment Demonstration Run: Washington DC
By Gabriel Carrera aka the Attorney That RIDES!
RUN TO THE WALL
Every year I try to make it to Rolling Thunder in Washington DC to ride for those who cannot. I have friends that are veterans and those that are not that meet up with me in DC. One of my friends Bill Avilles usually rides in with the central route of Run For The Wall (central route). Run to the Wall is somewhat different than the Rolling Thunder but its all with veterans with big hearts with love for their country and their brothers and sisters. I will write about Run For The Wall in a later article because I believe that I should share this with others because their mission is so American! I found this short video explaining the what, whys, wheres and all that to hold you over until I sit down and write that article.
According to their website The Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run is an annual protest and gathering that first started in 1988. Motorcycle riders from around the nation, and even around the world rally in the Pentagon parking lots and then begin riding a designated route through the Mall area of Washington, D.C. Afterward, it is an opportunity to meet old and new friends, pay respect at the memorials and participate in the Memorial Day events. The event is an actual demonstration/protest to bring awareness and accountability for POWs and MIAs left behind.
THE SALUTING MARINE
Since I have been going i have ridden past Marine Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers who is known as the saluting marine. He has been doing this for about 4-5 hours once per year. This man is highly respected and revered by all veterans and civilians. His love for those that ride has no bounds that he continues to show up every year no matter what his health condition is. One year he even saluted for over four hours with a broken wrist. He is one tough Marine but when you hear him talk he is very mild manner with a calming voice. He believes in the mission of Rolling Thunder and even got married in one of the Rolling Thunder. Watch this video that even brought tears to my eyes!
MY RIDER’S REPORT!
My experience this year was special as it was for the last few years of attendance. When I left Florida it was raining due to tropical storm Alberto spewing its moisture all over the southern Florida. I even wondered aloud on Facebook whether I should go. Good for me that I sobered up from those thoughts and headed out the Friday before the run. My son graduated High School Friday evening and immediately I went home to bed. After 2-hours sleep I rolled out onto the Florida highways making my yearly trek to DC.
I made it to northern NC before the extreme tiredness took over Saturday. I rolled into DC early that Sunday only to find that my biker friends that were to meet me took a hotel since the campgrounds were all muddy. I showed up and scored a clean room for $109 with free breakfast in the morning. I got a few hours sleep and I proceeded to find the Pentagon where the procession was to commence.
I was late because of all the road closures and my damn GPS kept sending me where I didnt want to go. Finally near noon I get to the Pentagon where the Rally was to start and I get in line with other bikers. I was surrounded by the Nam Knights motorcycle club. I rolled in and mentioned to the lady biker next me, “Just got in from Florida when do we leave?” She could not believe that I just rolled from FL. She explained that I was amongst the Nam Knights and that they get to leave first. I thought I should move since I was NOT a Knight but she insisted that I stay.
“My name is Paisan and this is my husband. You will ride will us because you my guest!” WELL HELL YEAH BABY!!!! Life got good about right then. I followed her as per her instructions and we went through all of downtown DC past the capital, the saluting Marine, ect ect and right past the lincoln memorial onto I-66. At that point I knew someone fucked up because we were suppose to stop at the park that we pasted by. People were pulling over scratching their heads like WTF?!?!?!?!
I bopped back onto that hated GPS and surprising it took me to the Pentagon with no delays or problems. There were four HUGE parking lots of people waiting to do the run. I went and found the official vendor of the Rolling Thunder pins & patches. After buying my patches I decided to do the ride a second time. I got back in line and shortly I was back into the parade of bikes heading downtown Washington DC. The Patriots and veterans where all aligned on the side of the roads with curious tourists wonder what all the fuss was about.
The good news is I stopped this time at the park across from the Lincoln Memorial and met up with my biker amigos that were already wonder where heck I was. I finally hooked up them by the Rolling Thunder stage in front of the Lincoln Memorial by the waters in front of the Washington Monument. I was with folks from Ohio and Florida. They brought up the flag detail and the wooden cage to demonstrate how POWs were treated during the Vietnam war.
I had a good time and met with many friends and made a crap load of new friends. I was sad to leave DC behind as I do every year. This year I had to battle the wet torrent rains of Tropical Storm Alberto. At least for Rolling Thunder it was rain free…..not too hot…..not cold….just right!
Gabe is a Florida Biker Attorney that represents the local Biker community in South Florida. He has practiced law in South Florida for the last 11-years in the areas of Injury and Family Law. Gabe set a world’s record by being the first to ride a Harley-Davidson from Ushuaia, Argentina (Tierra Del Fuego) to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in 2015. That run was certified by the Iron Butt Association and recognised by the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge. Gabe is a big supporter of veterans and volunteers and donates of his time and funds through the American Legion Post 180 in Plantation, Florida as a SAL member.