Every year since 1988, a group of bikers who call themselves Rolling Thunder have participated in a very special Memorial Day celebration. They follow a route through Washington, D.C. in remembrance of those who became prisoners of war or went missing in action while defending our country. While many people forget about the true meaning of Memorial Day and regard it as just a day off work for cookouts and parties, these bikers help keep the spirit of the day alive.
Joining them faithfully each year is a man known as “The Saluting Marine.” Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers comes to the celebration every year and stands in full dress for the entire four-hour ceremony under the hot late-May sun.
However, in 2012, something particularly wonderful happened at this celebration. The bikers were making their pass through the city as usual, and the sergeant stood at attention as he does each year. It was clear to onlookers that the strain was beginning to wear on him, but he did not waver as he continued to stand in the sun in remembrance of his missing and captured fellow soldiers.
As the bikers buzzed past him, one did something different. A woman stopped her bike and stepped off. She then stood in front of the sergeant and saluted him. Finally, she placed a single flower before the officer. She then got back on her bike and rode away.
On Memorial Day, people should not hesitate to enjoy themselves with food and good friends. After all, these are the freedoms and the lifestyle that the soldiers we are honoring on that day fought and sacrificed to protect. However, it is also important to remember why the day exists and who we are honoring just as that biker did four years ago for the brave sergeant.