A quarter million motorcycles roar into Washington in Rolling Thunder tribute to veterans and missing in action soldiers
PUBLISHED: 17:41 EST, 26 May 2013 | UPDATED: 21:12 EST, 26 May 2013
The Washington Mall and the Pentagon rumbled with 250,000 motorcycles on Sunday as Rolling Thunder rumbled into the capital.
Some 900,00 riders, passengers and spectators traveled from across the country for Memorial Day weekend to pay tribute to veterans and those stilling missing in action.
The annual event started in 1988, when the Vietnam War was still fresh on the nation's mind.
Rolling Thunder: Sounds of motorcyclists, many carrying flags to remember their fallen colleagues, rumbled into Washington DC on Sunday to kick off Memorial Day celebrations
Paying tribute: A U.S. serviceman salutes as hundreds of bikers pass him at the 26th annual Rolling Thunder
Older generation: Many of the riders are in their 60s - from the generation that was drafted and sent off to the Vietnam War, only to sustain heavy casualties
Many of the riders displayed the rough-and-tumble look of aging tough guys. However, each of the riders came out to honor veterans and those who never came back from war
The first year, 2,500 motorcyclist rode into Washington as a way to remember the thousands of men who were missing in action or believed still held as prisoners of war.
Rolling Thunder has since become an institution.
Motorcycle clubs from across the country flood the capital's hotels and suburban campgrounds.
Every sort of bike imaginable is represented - from vintage Indians to the newest Harley Davidsons to custom choppers and BMWs.
Scruffy: Most of the bikers sported long beards - many of which were gray or white with age
Scenic route: The Rolling Thunder parade route passed the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the capital's great war memorials
This rider opted to show his patriotism and support for veterans by flying numerous flags from the back of his motorcycle
Attention: A U.S. soldier saluted the passing bikers as they rode past the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. The 'Ride for Freedom' parade drew hundreds of thousands of spectators
The mighty procession began in the parking lot of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, at 7am.
The parade route took the thundering motorcycles past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean Veterans Memorial and the World War II Veterans Memorial.
The Washington Monument and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial are other prominent sights along the route.
The motorcycle parade ends on the banks of the Potomac River on the National Mall.
The event also features 'Thunder Alley' in downtown Washington DC, which features vendors selling all manner of stickers, pins and patches to commemorate Rolling Thunder.
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