War on Terrorism

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Rolling Thunder, Wounded Warriors Honor 9/11 Victims

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

May 5, 2010 - Rolling Thunder motorcyclists joined Warrior Games athletes in a wreath-laying ceremony today at the Pentagon Memorial here to honor the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. The two parties came together with the Pentagon Memorial Fund as a reminder of the possibilities to which one can aspire when faced with hardships. As difficult as some challenges may seem, it's important to remember that "life goes on," James Laychak, Pentagon Memorial Fund president, said.

"It's always good to kind of stop and remember what happened," Laychak said. "When things happen that you don't expect, you can still beat it and go on. That's what the Warrior Games is all about, right? The Warrior Games and this memorial remind you that life goes on."

The ceremony marked the second leg for Rolling Thunder in a five-day trek across the country, in which the group that devotes itself to veterans issues and the nation's prisoners of war and servicemembers missing in action is transporting American flags to be flown at next week's inaugural Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The flags were flown over military locations around the globe, including the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Korea's demilitarized zone and Germany's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Rolling Thunder also is carrying flags that flew over Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

Rolling Thunder members transported the flags here from the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York, and tomorrow will pay their respects at the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa. From there, the flags will be delivered to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the Warrior Games opening ceremony. Each of the flags will be flown for one day during the five-day competition.

Rolling Thunder's journey is a symbol of freedom in the purest form, said Dale "Wrong Way" Williams from the group's Maryland chapter.

"The fact that we don't sit back on our haunches and let somebody walk all over us, and that we have men and women willing to go out there ensure our freedom – the [Warrior Games] symbolizes freedom in the sincerest way," Williams said.

The inaugural Warrior Games kick off May 10 and will feature disabled veterans and wounded active duty athletes in Paralympics-style competition.

Rolling Thunder is a nonprofit organization with more than 88 chapters in all 50 states. It works year-round to ensure the nation never forgets that American prisoners of war and missing in action still remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The organization raises funds to help veterans and provides legislative advocacy on veterans' issues. Members volunteer to visit local veterans' hospitals and educate people about the POW/MIA issue.

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