‘Rolling to Remember’ returns to Pentagon for first time since 2019

Motorcyclists participate in the Rolling to Remember ride near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on May 29, 2022. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

An annual Memorial Day weekend tradition featuring thousands of motorcycles riding through the nation’s capital will return this year — and this time it will be fully back to its pre-pandemic form.

“We’re expecting to get back to real normalcy,” said Joe Chenelly, executive director for AMVETS, the organization hosting the event.

“Rolling to Remember,” which was previously known as “Rolling Thunder,” will start at the Pentagon for the first time since 2019.

The event was largely held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic, and it has started at RFK Stadium instead of the Pentagon over the past couple of years.

“There will be thousands of motorcycles pouring into the Pentagon’s north parking lot before they all pull out together and go around the Memorial Bridge and the National Mall,” Chenelly said.

While Chenelly told WTOP he was grateful that RFK Stadium was available in recent years, he said the symbolism of being back at the Pentagon could not be overlooked.

“The Pentagon represents all the different branches of service,” Chenelly said. “It represents who veterans are.”

The tradition of motorcycles rumbling through D.C. has been around for decades, starting in 1988.

This year, people affiliated with the event will start gathering in D.C. on Friday, May 26, for special events at the National Cathedral, DAR Constitution Hall and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Streets along 22nd Street between C Street and Constitution Avenue NW will posted as Emergency No Parking and closed for public safety to vehicle traffic from Friday at 5 p.m. through Monday at 11 p.m.

The ride itself will take place Sunday, May 28.

Motorcycle riders will gather at the Pentagon on Sunday morning and then ride through the nation’s capital starting around noon.

Participants will be honoring those killed in war and missing in action. They will also work to draw attention to the suicide crisis among military members.

According to Defense Department data, suicides among active-duty service members increased by more than 40% between 2015 and 2020. The numbers jumped by 15% in 2020 alone.

A 2021 study by the Cost of War Project concluded that since 9/11, four times as many service members and veterans have died by suicide as have perished in combat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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