President Donald Trump joined veterans group AMVETS on Friday morning to kick off the organization’s “Rolling to Remember” motorcycle ride formerly known as “Rolling Thunder.”
“Thank you for keeping this noble tradition alive and for preserving the memory of those missing but never forgotten. My administration will spare no effort or resource to support the men and the women who defend our nation,” Trump told the group of bikers.
Watch the full ceremony below:
Trump welcomed the bikers to take a lap around the White House South Lawn, and they did so to Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
Trump recalled when some 1,000 bikers showed up at an event he was speaking at, and told him “we’re here to protect you.”
“I never felt so safe,” he said. “They were beautiful people. I never forgot that.”
Trump touted his administration’s efforts on military and veterans issues, including “over 2.1 trillion in funding to completely rebuild America’s military.” Trump also said his efforts led to the removal of more than 8,000 VA workers who were not doing their jobs.
Trump also said the U.S. military was “depleted” but his administration has supplied them with “281 F-35 fighter jets – the best in the world – 453 Abrams tanks, 14,400 tactical combat vehicles, two aircraft carriers, 36 additional battleships, and much more.”
The Rolling to Remember ride, which has gone virtual in light of the coronavirus pandemic, spans the Memorial Day weekend to honor America’s veterans, prisoners of war, and service members missing in action.
The organization has asked its participants to ride their motorcycles 22 miles in their own communities for the Memorial Day Weekend rally this Sunday at noon EST. Riders can plan, track, and share their rides via an app called REVER.
The Memorial Day Weekend rally has been planned since September, even though the 32-year old tradition ended for the original organizers, and is now hosted by AMVETS.
“The decision to change the way we’ll roll to remember was a painful but necessary one. Safety was our top concern, as has been the case with all major events that were canceled due to COVID-19,” Sherman Gillums Jr., Chief Advocacy Officer of AMVETS, told American Military News this week.
“As veterans tend to do, we will adapt and overcome by bringing people together however we can, regardless of the pandemic. Our virtual event will include testimonials from veterans, families, and survivors, special messages from a few surprise guests, and content that will inspire those who ‘attend’ as we honor the fallen during Memorial Day weekend,” Gillums Jr. said. “It’s like celebrating Thanksgiving in Kabul or Christmas in Baghdad — it’s the spirit, not the circumstances, that will give it meaning.”