Thousands of motorcyclists have poured into the nation’s capital to honor prisoners of war and service members missing in action.
The 2017 Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom took place Sunday. The annual gathering of motorcycle riders that’s been going on since 1988 attracted thousands of bikers and spectators.
Since 1988, thousands of bikers and spectators have converged in Washington to honor military veterans and members of the military missing in action. More than 1 million people are expected to participate. Vietnam War-era veteran Bob Atkinson and his wife, Brenda Atkinson, said they were honored to ride in Rolling Thunder for their 17th year. They rode 900 miles to D.C. from their home in Perkins, Illinois.
Vietnam War-era veteran Bob Atkinson said he rides to “keep people aware that there’s still people missing in action.”
“Until we get rid of that and treat everybody fairly and right, then the government needs to be aware, and this is one way that they’re aware every year — that people come here for this,” he said.
Being part of the huge wage of bikers approaching the National Mall never fails to make him cry, he said.
Donald Trump told a motorcycle rally on Sunday that people in the U.S. illegally often are cared for better than the nation’s military veterans, without backing up his allegation.
“Thousands of people are dying waiting in line to see a doctor. That is not going to happen anymore,” Trump told veterans gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the annual Rolling Thunder event, which brings thousands of motorcyclists to Washington each Memorial Day weekend.
Trump has repeated his comparison of the treatment of immigrants and veterans frequently during the campaign. Congress and many states have written an assortment of laws and policies designed to restrict government services to people living in the country illegally.
The Rolling Thunder event is organized to draw attention to veterans’ issues and dedicated to remembering prisoners of war and service members missing in action.
“It’s an honor to be with you,” the billionaire added, saying no matter where he goes, Rolling Thunder is there.
“Do we love the bikers?” Trump touted, “No matter where I go, there’s bikers.”
“I said, ‘What are they all doing here?’ And my people would say, ‘They’re here to protect you Mr. Trump,” he added. “It’s an amazing thing.”
“There is love and it’s an incredible feeling and that’s why I wanted to be with you today,” he told the crowd.
“We’re with you 100 percent,” Trump told the crowd.