Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend In The Suburbs of Washington D.C.
The air is filled with the sights and sounds of the men and women riding bikes to the Vietnam War Memorial from Virginia and 49 other states. This annual event always brings chills to my heart. What dedicated riders. This ride is now in its 22'nd year. Some of the riders are in their seventies and need the three wheelers to make the ride to the wall. I wonder if the number of riders will drop off as these Vietnam vets get older and eventually die? Or will their numbers be replaced by the Iraq and Afghanistan vets?
The biggest event was yesterday when they gathered in the Pentagon parking lot in Arlington and rode together over the bridge and into the District of Columbia to the wall but today they will be all around the D.C. metro area because it is Memorial Day. The day to remember all like my husband who had the courage to wear a uniform and go do what Uncle Sam wanted whether in times of peace or in times or war.
Many
Many wars.
Many dead.
Many permanently wounded.
Many who served and returned home safely to go on with their lives.
Many who served and didn't ever walk thru that home door again.
Many who returned to spend the rest of their lives stagnating in a VA Hospital.
Many who came home but who never could get the war out of their minds.
Many who eventually became homeless.
Many who love their country but wonder why this had to happen and continues to happen.
Many who remind us that freedom isn't free but comes with a price.
Many are signing up right now after graduation to go serve.
Many lives.
Many stories.
Many memories.
This is Memorial Day.
The black flags are to remind all of us of the servicemen who are still POW's or MIA's. This is another very big reason for the ride each year. To remind us that not all those who went made it home safely. That we still have men aging and dying in Vietnam and there are others whose bodies have not been found yet and brought back to the United States for burial.

I took these photos during the 2008 Rolling Thunder Ride thru the streets of Washington D.C. And yes, all those bikes rolling by your spot on the sidewalk sounds exactly like rolling thunder on a beautiful spring day.

Here's an army truck to remind us that on this fun holiday weekend we have men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and being sent into harm's way. Did you watch the live concert on the mall last night? It was very moving---especially the two actresses who portrayed in a somber skit the mother and daughter who cared for their badly wounded son and brother home from Iraq. The wounded soldier who will never have a normal life again was in the audience in a wheelchair along with many other severely wounded and disfigured soldiers.

2 comments:

Linda Reeder said...

Thanks for reminding us of the reason for this holiday.
I will not celebrate war, but I will honor those who served.

Denise said...

Wonderful tribute Joann. I often see groups of bikers making their way home while driving around here. I always wave to them. God Bless 'em.