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Pentagon denies permit to veteran motorcycle rally ‘Rolling to Remember’

The annual ride by Rolling Thunder as it crosses the Memorial Bridge in Washington D.C., May 24, 2009. (Pulicciano/Flickr)
May 03, 2021

On Friday, the Department of Defense denied a parking permit request to the American Veterans (AMVETS) to use the Pentagon as a staging point for their 32nd annual “Rolling To Remember” Memorial Day motorcycle rally.

In a department statement obtained by WJLA 7 News, the Department of Defense said, “Unfortunately, the department has disapproved AMVETS permit request. The department took into careful consideration all aspects of AMVETS request.” The DoD further said, “If COVID-19 conditions permit, the department would gladly consider supporting a future event request from AMVETS, potentially as soon as this Labor Day weekend.”

While the DoD said it gave “careful consideration” to the parking permit request, AMVETS criticized the decision in a Monday statement, saying the department ignored their permit requests for months.

“The biggest disappointment in the Pentagon’s denial was that AMVETS was ignored for months as its professional staff in Washington requested numerous times an opportunity to hear the Defense Department’s concerns and present a COVID-19 safety plan to the Pentagon’s decision-makers before rendering a decision,” AMVETS National Commander Jan Brown said. “In the end, the Pentagon decided to deny the application without any meaningful communication with AMVETS.”

Rolling to Remember is an event honoring prisoners of war (POWs), and service members who remain missing in action (MIA) and who have struggled with suicide since returning home. Rolling to Remember is the successor to the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally,

Last year, AMVETS held a scaled-down version of the Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally, in combination with virtual rally events across the country, in consideration of the COVID-19 restrictions at the time. According to the Monday statement, the veteran group had submitted their request for the Pentagon parking permit back in May 2020.

AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly told Fox News, “Our biggest disappointment with the Pentagon’s decision here was that they never gave us an opportunity despite us asking many times to be able to present a plan of how we would be able to meet at the Pentagon parking lot outdoors in a safe responsible way.”

AMVETS are seeking a permit to use RFK Stadium as the backup staging ground for the motorcycle rally.

“As regional government and law enforcement officials understand, several thousand motorcycle-riding demonstrators are still planning to come to Washington over Memorial Day weekend to remember the fallen and demonstrate,” AMVETS wrote. “It is imperative they have a safe place to rally that Sunday morning. The Pentagon’s expansive parking space was ideal to ensure social distancing. AMVETS remains committed to coordinating a safe, coordinated staging area for those demonstrators.”