Enjoy Your Freedom, Someone Paid In Blood For It
I was reading articles from CNN, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post tonight on the Rolling Thunder ride to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC as part of the Memorial Day weekend. I was struck by the sheer gall of some of the comments which no doubt came from people trolling and getting their jollies from enraging readers, and anti American sentiments from abroad. I won’t comment on those from abroad as they have their own agenda but I will say a few words to the homegrown trolls and detractors who say the ride is nothing but a farce and no tribute to vets.
Have you ever been to The Wall in DC? There are roughly (by 2010) 58,272 names listed on the Memorial. Approximately 1200 of these are listed as missing (MIA’s, POW’s, and others). Over 153,000 were wounded in the conflict. In World War II there were almost a half million servicemen lost in action. For anyone who has lost a family member in the line of service to their country, paying homage is a privilege and honor to those they’ve lost. Take into consideration the family and extended family of one person lost…mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc. The math becomes staggering when you try and calculate all those affected by the loss of a loved one, let alone take into account wives, children, and friends.
The riders in Rolling Thunder by and large are made up of veterans from all branches of service, and from various conflicts around the globe past and present. A significant part of those riders were also there in honor of a loved one lost, to ride in their place and pay their respects.
Some of the comments ranged from “it’s nothing but a big promotion for Harley-Davidson” to “it’s just a bunch of old farts patting each other on the back” to “who cares about Vietnam, we’re in Afghanistan now”. No doubt the last comment was made by someone short on yearly seasoning. To a veteran it doesn’t matter how old you are or when you served or where….you served your country. There will always be detractors voicing their opinion, and that’s their right…but never….NEVER…knock someone who did their part to ensure you had your right to be as ignorant and uninformed as you are. Sure the ride is a big party…bring on the dancing girls and beers….is that really what you think? These are people bonded through sacrifice, remembering their comrades, their family, being surrounded by people who understand the hell they went through for you. So while you may sneer at a bunch of old bikers smiling and patting each other on the back…remember this…..they are doing what those lost would want them to do……LIVE. As much as they pay their respects and shed tears, they celebrate life and freedom because that’s what they paid for, that’s what those lost would be doing if given the chance. A Harley is an American bike made in the country that these people served and died for, it signifies freedom and independence, a once mighty giant who fell and rose from the ashes to triumph again. It’s that same spirit that every country on planet earch tries to instill in it’s citizens, patriotism.
The first time I visited the wall it took a moment to realize that all those names were 5 times more than the city I came from, and then there were the families and loved ones of those names. I wept.
To the men and women who have served their countries past and present, and to those lost……thank you from the bottom of my heart.