PHOTOS: Rolling to Remember brings thousands to DC ahead of Memorial Day

Rolling to Remember brings thousands to DC ahead of Memorial Day

Thousands of motorcyclists from around the world gathered in the nation’s capital Sunday for the annual Rolling to Remember motorcycle ride.

This year marks the 36th time the event has taken place in D.C. over Memorial Day weekend to honor the nation’s fallen veterans and servicemen.

The ride began in the Pentagon parking lot Sunday morning and went east on Constitution Avenue along the National Mall toward the Capitol, then back west along Independence Avenue. The whole ride ends with a vigil at the Lincoln Memorial.

Ahead of the main event, some local participants parked their bikes at the Patriot Harley-Davidson Dealer in Fairfax, Virginia. For 24 years, the Ride of the Patriots has originated from this location, meeting up for a pancake breakfast and opening ceremony, before receiving a police escort to the Pentagon for the start of Rolling to Remember.

On his Harley, Air Force veteran Dean Latham participated in the Ride of the Patriots for the second time.

“A lot of the guys and girls that are riding today are all veterans,” Latham said. “If you look around, you’ll see a lot of patches for the Army, for the Coast Guard even. You’ll see the American Legion here. And most of us have a deep-rooted connection to service.”

Remembrance along the route

Along the main route in D.C., Tim Chambers, a retired Marine veteran who refers to himself as the “Saluting Marine,” said that Memorial Day events like Rolling to Remember began as a demonstration to remind people of those soldiers who went missing in action, those who succumbed to their injuries, PTSD and other tragic outcomes from their service to the nation.

“We need to mourn a little bit more as a society, because there’s a lot of families that are hurting, there’s a lot of families that were destroyed, there’s a lot of families that don’t know what happened to their loved one, and we didn’t get them the accountability or closure that they deserve,” Chambers said. “Veteran suicide, that’s still happening. It’s so out of sight out of mind, and then you need to be reminded that it’s happening.”

April Lamie, who came up from North Carolina with a group called TAPS (Tragedy Assistant Programs for Survivors), lost her husband nine years ago. This is the sixth year she has been coming to D.C. for Memorial Day.

“It’s just in the sound of the bikes. It’s very inspiring,” Lamie said. “It has such depth and meaning and you can literally feel the vibrations of the caring and the thoughtfulness and the support as they as they roll by you.”

Asked what she wanted people to remember about the holiday, she said, “Their lives are not to be mourn but to be celebrated because they are all someone we loved.”

Tom Kreutzer’s uncle was killed in World War II. He’s an employee with the Department of State and has worked with military commands in the past. He said this ride is a small way to show his appreciation for the people who sacrifice their lives.

“There’s usually a really good community, especially with Harley riders,” Kreutzer said. “Generally, when I’ve been with Harley guys, they’re a certain kind of person and I respect that. So, they’re good to hang around with.”

John De Pasquale has been riding in the event for about 20 years. He said this year in particular is special for him because it’s the first year his son Mike is riding alongside. Mike, the grandson of a World War II veteran, says he’s most excited “to actually be in it, not standing on the side of the road waving at everybody.”

WTOP’s Linh Bui and Joshua Barlow contributed to this report.

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Grace Newton

Grace Newton is an Associate Producer at WTOP. She also works as an associate producer for NPR Newscast. Grace was born and raised in North Carolina but has lived in D.C. since 2018. Grace graduated from American University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in art history in 2022.

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