Through the revving roar of Rolling Thunder,
amplifying along air and asphalt,
silent complacency’s cast asunder,
by the tour de force its riders exalt.
On roads and bridges, spectators await
the annual coast-to-coast migration
of Run For The Wall passing through their state
in tightly unified group formation.
Reflecting our country’s crossroads on chrome
the riders of Rolling Thunder emerge,
returning en mass to The Mall and Dome,
gathering strength as their chapters converge!
From Heartland to Beltway, we won’t forget
the debt we owe the American vet!
E. V. Wyler
Rolling Thunder Rally in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day - May 25, 2014
The Revving Roar of Rolling Thunder was originally published on the website of the Classical Society of Poets on May 25, 2018.
A patriotic tradition began in the autumn of 1987 when 2 men, Artie Muller and Ray Manzo, decided to advocate for fellow veterans by riding their motorcycles through Washington D.C. over the following Memorial Day weekend. In an era before “social media”, they shared their plans with family, friends, and other veterans, hoping the addition of more bikers would magnify the sound of their engines. That first year, Memorial Day weekend 1988, bikers from all over the country met them and, by the time they reached the capital, they were 2,500 strong. Since then, every year on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day, thousands of Rolling Thunder bikers participate in the Ride For Freedom Demonstration Run, departing the Pentagon Parking Lot at noon, crossing Arlington Memorial Bridge, and riding up Constitution Avenue. However, before the more famous Ride For Freedom captures the attention of lawmakers, it’s preceding journey, Run For The Wall, awakens the electorate. During this 10-day, cross-country migration, Rolling Thunder’s individual chapters join 1 of 3 Run For The Wall’s routes to Washington D.C. These dedicated bikers will ride 400 miles per day, through sun, rain, and sleet; through mountains and deserts, contending with temperatures ranging from 30 to 115 degrees; but, most importantly, as they progress from heartland to beltway, they are cheered on by the American people. One year, somewhere amidst The Revving Roar of Rolling Thunder, a poet’s eyes well up … and a sonnet is conceived.
Thank you for reading my tribute to these patriotic bikers.
E. V. Wyler