Sunday marks the last time hundreds of thousands of Rolling Thunder motorcycles will participate in the Memorial Day observance on the National Mall.
For many people, the group's decades-long presence with the loud hum of their motorcycle engines has become synonymous with Memorial Day activities in Washington.
Rolling Thunder's Ride for Freedom was designed to raise awareness of service people who have given their lives or are missing in action during U.S. military combat.
Rolling Thunder Executive Director Artie Miller says he has grown frustrated with dealing with the Pentagon in coordinating the annual Ride for Freedom on Memorial Day.
He says sponsors, participants and vendors were not allowed access to parking lots last year, even though Rolling Thunder said it had paid 'exorbitant permit fees.'
In a tweet Saturday, President Donald Trump said he 'Can't believe that Rolling Thunder would be given a hard time with permits in Washington, D.C. They are great Patriots who I have gotten to know and see in action. They love our Country and love our Flag. If I can help, I will!'
In 2020, the non-profit Rolling Thunder is asking its 90 local chapters to hold their own individual Memorial Day demonstrations with the intent of spreading it and growing participation even further. That's why Miller doesn't view this as the end of the event, but rather as a transformation of it.
U.S. Defense Department figures show that 83,000 American military personnel remain unaccounted for, and the large majority - about 73,000 - are from the Second World War. Upwards of 7,700 are from the Korean War, and some 1,600-plus are from the Vietnam War.