Ron Manzo went to Vietnam as a Marine in 1967. He came home in 1969 with a Bronze star and a new understanding of the world. In 1987 he went to Washington D.C. to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. While there he listened to MIA/POW activists and was shocked to learn about the men that had been left in Southeast Asia. This was where the idea of Rolling Thunder began to materialize. But, he saw it merely as a one time event, as a demonstration to give the issue of the POW/MIA the national attention it needed.
The first year there were 2,500 participants in Rolling Thunder and each year since it has grown with riders coming from all over the United States and the world to be a part of this expression of allegiance to those who are in the military and might be one of the POW/MIA.
In 1993 Rolling Thunder wrote, got introduced, and passed the Missing Service Personnel Act of 1993. This bill put into effect a United States code to set up procedures and effective protocol for the military from the time a soldier might go missing and the proper way that is to be handled.
It was the aim of Rolling Thunder to bring closure to families who had agonized over the unknown location of loved ones, some of them for years, and return them home to a respectful and honorable burial.
May 22-25 the Rolling Thunder XXVIII First Amendment Demonstration Run will take place in Washington, D.C. The actual run will take place on May 24 with the participants congregating in the north and south parking lots of the Pentagon between 8 am and 9 am. The Rolling Thunder XXVIII First Amendment Demonstration Run will begin at noon. A thunderous roar of cycles will be heard as riders make their way along the route, which takes about 15-20 minutes, to their destination of the Lincoln Memorial.
All this anticipation aims to bring attention to those who were lost in war. To show their commitment to PIA/MIA lost in battles they didn't ask for, but honorably invested, their lives in fighting for their country.
Thunder Alley is on 22nd Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest and will open each morning of the weekend at 9 am. Both motorcycle paraphernalia and Thunder Run memorabilia can be found along with food and featured speakers.
A candle vigil will be held at the Vietnam Wall Memorial on the 22nd at 9 pm.
On Sunday, May 24th the Rolling Thunder XXVIII First Amendment Demonstration Run will begin at noon and usually ends around 3:30 pm.
A concert will be held near the Lincoln Memorial on the 24th at 8 pm.
On Monday, May 25th there with be a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery with the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11 am. The National Memorial Day Parade will at 2 pm. with military units from all 50 states. Concluding the day will be a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 pm.