The annual “Ride for Freedom” on Memorial Day weekend will keep raging until the government brings prisoners of war (POWs) back home and closure to the families of American service members who are still missing in action (MIAs), the national president of Rolling Thunder, which organizes the event, told Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot Channel 125.
The annual event was started by two Vietnam veterans in 1987 who were joined that year by 2,800 motorcycles out of New Jersey, said Joe Bean, Rolling Thunder’s national president.
“We’ve been doing this ride for 29 years and we’ll keep going until we get answers from our government to bring our POWs back home and our missing in action,” he told Breitbart News Sunday. “The families need closure in their lives.”
Bean went on to note that there are still U.S. service members missing from the wars in Vietnam and Korea, as well as from World War II.
“Obviously, most of their families have passed on by now and hopefully they got their answers in heaven, but we need to get closure for these people and we’ll continue coming back into Washington, D.C. until we get our government to listen to what we have to say,” declared the organization’s vice-president.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke to the thousands of people, many of them veterans, attending this year’s Rolling Thunder demonstration. Trump was the only candidate to appear at the event.
Bean said the GOP nominee “was received very well” by the audience at the National Mall where he delivered his address “because he’s for veterans.”
“He says he’s for the veterans and we totally believe he is. It’s time for a new face in the big office, I think to help the veterans out,” added the Rolling Thunder president. “They got stomped on way too long.”
Bean condemned President Barack Obama’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald for recently downplaying the fatal impact of the wait times at VA hospitals by comparing them to lines at Disney theme parks.
“I don’t like it at all,” he said of the VA chief’s remarks. “No veteran should have to wait in line or wait months to get their benefits and get their services at a VA center. If they can’t get their services at a VA center, that’s fine. Let them go to a regular hospital and then pay their bill for them. It’s that simple.”
Over the past year, the VA health system has come under fire for keeping long wait lists of veterans in need of essential care, leading to the fatalities.
“We’re gonna rebuild our military and we’re gonna take care of our veterans. Our veterans have been treated so badly in this country,” Trump said at the National Mall, later adding, “In many cases, illegal immigrants are taken much better care of by this country than our veterans. We’re not going to allow that to happen any longer.”
The Rolling Thunder event keeps growing every year, according to Bean.
“Every year from 1987 until this present time, it kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I estimate that in the north Pentagon parking lot [alone] this year, we probably had close to 700 motorcycles, that’s not counting what’s in [the nation’s capital],” he said.
The Pentagon is located right outside of Washington, D.C. in Arlington, VA.
It’s not all about motorcycles, I want everybody to understand that…you don’t have to own a motorcycle to be in the organization. Instead, you have to believe in the mission statement…and that’s to help POWs, MIAs, and our veterans. I mean we help veterans throughout the year also. You know, the government don’t want to help these guys out, we’ll find them a way to get their VA benefits if we need to. We help them pay their bills if we have to — whatever it takes.
“We try to help out whenever we can and support the families,” he added.
Bean complained that while Rolling Thunder does not have to pay for the entertainers who come out during the event, it does have to pay to use the U.S. taxpayer-funded Pentagon parking lot.
“It cost us a lot of money to rent the Pentagon parking lot…but that’s politics,” he proclaimed.
Breitbart News Sunday airs weekly on SiriusXM Patriot Channel 125.