Memorial Day has always signaled the start of summer for me. And what a wonderful way to begin our 15 weeks of summer, but with a holiday that commemorates those who fought and died to ensure the freedoms that underscore our enjoyment of summertime.
Enjoy your leisure time over the next 15 weeks. Travel the country. Visit a historic civil war battlefield or travel to Washington D.C. to visit the Smithsonian Institute or the National Archives. You can see the original, founding documents there. Immerse yourself in showing your kids our history, because our history is rich and meaningful. I guarantee you, they will be spellbound to hear about the Battle of Gettysburg, or “the shot heard round the world” in Lexington.
I was always focused on making sure that my kids had the opportunity to enjoy their summers. Whether playing baseball, swimming in a pool or lake with their friends and then enjoying hamburgers on the grill after a full day of fun, summer was defined as just that, FUN!
Like many of you, we all have traditions that define our summertime. Last weekend, an event in Washington, D.C. underscored our reverence in honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our liberty. Rolling Thunder is a national organization that was created to honor our POW/MIA’s. Here is their purpose:
The Rolling Thunder Story
In the fall of 1987, Vietnam veterans met to discuss their personal concerns about the POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War. Having honorably served their country and having taken an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies…” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to same,” they were deeply troubled by the abhorrent neglect of attention given to those who did not make it out with their lives or their freedom. These veterans discussed the more than 10,000 reported sightings of live Americans living in dismal captivity. Intelligence reports of these sightings were generally ignored by the government and mainstream press.
The First Rolling Thunder Demonstration
The Founders of Rolling Thunder were ordinary men who understood that they had a right to have their voices heard and proceeded to lay down the plans for a gathering in Washington, D.C. during the 1988 Memorial Day weekend. They reached out to their families, fellow veterans and veteran’s advocates to unify and form a march and demonstration in the nation’s Capitol. Their arrival would be announced by the roar of their motorcycles, a sound not unlike the 1965 bombing campaign against North Vietnam dubbed Operation Rolling Thunder. Hence, they would call themselves “Rolling Thunder” a title that would endure time and be trademarked in 1990. Word spread quickly and by Memorial Day weekend in 1988, approximately 2,500 motorcycles from all over the country converged on Washington, D.C. to demand from our leaders a full accounting of all POW/MIAs. As the Founders of Rolling Thunder made their stand that day in front of the Capitol, they reflected thankfully for the people who came in support of the POW/ MIAs and for the unity that was felt. This was Rolling Thunder’s first demonstration. Only until ALL POW/MIAs ARE ACCOUNTED FOR, it will not be their last. On that day, the foundation was laid for the annual “Ride for Freedom” to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall (also referred to as the “Ride to the Wall”). The number of participants/spectators in the Memorial Day weekend Ride for Freedom has grown from 2,500 to an estimated 900,000.
Wow, wouldn’t that be fun to participate in? I think my kids would have been ecstatic to participate in such an event. After it was over, they would have been excited to travel on a heritage trail, visiting Mount Vernon, Monticello and walking the streets of Philadelphia. From there, I would want to travel to Boston, and follow the path of Paul Revere’s ride, as he awakened the countryside to the approaching British army, which led, ultimately, to “the shot heard round the world” on April 19th, 1775.
You see, kids love to learn about history. How many of you remember sitting at your grandfather’s knee while he reminisced about his youth? I was always enthralled to be around my grandfather. He brought history alive for me, with both his knowledge and his grace. He was the ultimate gentleman and never ventured out on a Sunday without a suit and tie.
Today, we are being treated with another family’s similar story. Would you not love to be able to afford a motor-home to travel the country and show your kids all the things that we just talked about? Of course you would! I would have hand-painted signs to festoon our car to get the kids fired up about the vacation.
Sarah Palin and her family are living the American dream. After participating in the “Rolling Thunder” rally in Washington D.C. yesterday, they have embarked on a tour to re-enact the foundational events that define us as a country. Where else would you go to learn about our founding besides the Northeast? It has to be the very first stop on a tour to appreciate our history. It too bad that the current residents of the area have forgotten our history. Perhaps Sarah and her family will change that in their search for knowledge and, hopefully, ours.
Cross-posted on Generational Dysfunction