Rolling Thunder Marks Memorial Day

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Thousands of American veterans are part of Rolling Thunder, riding their motorcycles into Washington, D.C., to congregate at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. They're remembering prisoners of war and troops missing in action.


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

It is Memorial Day, and for many veterans here is the sound of this holiday.

(Soundbite of motorcycle)

INSKEEP: That's a motorcycle engine and it's also the sound of Rolling Thunder. Thousands of American veterans rode their motorcycles to Washington, D.C. this weekend. They came to recall troops who went missing in action or were taken prisoner. And as they've done for 20 years, the riders held a rally near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial yesterday. Then a few of them met with President Bush.

Unidentified Man #1: Mr. President, (unintelligible)?

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Hey, how are you? Yeah, thank you. I'm doing great. How are you doing?

Unidentified Man #1: (Unintelligible).

Unidentified Man #2: All right. This is (unintelligible).

INSKEEP: The Rolling Thunder veterans rode in from across the country. They fought in Vietnam and Korea and Afghanistan and Iraq. Rolling Thunder organizers say their first rallies in the 1980s drew only a few thousand riders. But in more recent times, hundreds of thousands have been on the National Mall.

The Rolling Thunder veterans sponsor missions into Southeast Asia to search for American soldiers or for their remains. And, this year, they're also calling for more assistance for veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering from post-traumatic stress. They also say they want more aid for wounded veterans after they're discharged from military hospitals.

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