No matter how you cut it, getting up in the morning is not among my finer attributes. This morning was ok till I moved and then there was instant pain. It was bad enough that I pushed the envelope and clipped off 658 miles on the motorcycle but it seems as if the pinched nerve in my L5 decided to retaliate for all the abuse. Needless to say, It took over an hour to do what should have been able to do in 15 minutes. However, the good news is that the Dragon Princes was none the worse for wear and stood patiently waiting for the key to go into the ignition so that her engine could purr with a sense of mission.
The ride started out much like yesterday with a high overcast and would have been a good jacket weather but I packed mine and so had to deal with the wind. Within 20 minutes I was on 295 and counted 11 state police of which 6 had cars pulled over and 5 had their radar guns out and some from some very well hidden places. However, for the most part, I had 285 to myself for the most till I got back to 96.
Coming into the DC area of Northern Virginia, passed by the Pentagon and on the north parking lot saw the longest line of Port-a-potties I have ever seen. The time was too short to take a photo but for sure tomorrow I will. Pulled into the motel at about noon and was oh so glad I was there early. There was a small parking lot in the center and this photo turns out to be the least number of bikes i have seen.Got my bike parked so I could get out early tomorrow and decided to do the rest on foot. The first order of business was lunch.
Make no mistake the only thing on the menu for such an occasion is a hamburger and a cup of coffee. Now I had brought enough rations with me so that I would not need to eat anywhere but the best laid plans of mice and men get sidetracked every once in a while and yesterday after some 650 miles on the bike there was no chance I was going to anything other than find a place to eat. Today, I had over 3 hours to wait till check-in and worst was the fact that the room was not even cleaned. So off i was to find a hamburger in Rosslyn. Lucky for me there was on of the best hamburger joints I have ever eaten in my life. I was so confident that i ask for no potatoes or rabbit food. Everylthing after salt on a meal is lost on me. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
The question that falls out of the above paragraph is just how can you tell this was a good hamburger place. First is that it was full. Second is that they did not waste time with foolishness such as napkins, silverware and the likes. And lastly, that is all there was on the menu. As you can see from the photo that in lieu of napkins there was a roll of paper towels on the table. However, that was wasted on me because who needs such amenities when wearing dungarees.
Got back to the Motel and still had a couple of hours to kill so started walking the loop in the heat of the day to the Iwo Jima memorial, Arlington Cemetery and Lincoln Memorial. Poor planning meant I was going to walk in 13 inch motor cycle boots but then I have been wearing boots most of my life.
First on the list was the Iwo Jima Memorial and it has to be said that in many respects the statue has inspired me most of my life. I guess more than anything it set some sort of élan that permeated down to my DNA. Went into the marines three days out of high school and it was something that gave meaning to my life. That is aside from John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Lee Marvin (who was a member of the horse marines in China prior to World War II).If you tap on the photo, it will expand and you will see the logo of “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Don’t know there was anything more to be said about this as an inspiration of what should be. That was a huge part of my life for 8 years of which my deployment from Okinawa to Vietnam in 1965 was included.
Second Stop was Arlington Cemetery. Left a lot of friends behind in the truama and drama of my life and for me to walk though there it is something I do alone. I often wonder why not me when so many fine young men and women were cut down in their prime that had such brilliance and dedication to what they did. Many did not volunteer but when drafted served with valor and gave it their all. Never have been able to walk out of their less than sad. Where as it seems the graves go on forever, you can tap on the photo and get a better perspectiver of oh so many dead.
What most do not know is that on the other side of the tomb stone is the the name of the spouse who is buried there. As I have walked so many times through Arlington, I am amazed at how many were cut down in life without having had the opportunity to marry and know the full meaning of life.
As I was walking to the Lincoln memorial I had a chance to witness so many bikes headed into the Arlington Cemetery where the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is. Don’t know that I have ever seen so much anger in my life. You have to realize that for the most part Rolling Thunder is mostly Vietnam Vets. As i was walking across the bridge to the Lincoln Memorial a couple of thoughts ran through my head. These were men that for the most part were drafted and served when so many ran off to college or Canada. When the war was over, those that ran off were pardon or whatever and came back to be re-integrated into society without suffering the wounds of war. Those that went to college got an education and leg up on life that always kept them one step ahead of those that went to war. Then on another level, the country as a whole treated those that went to war as 5th class citizens.
There was another point that stills finds expression today. There were 1,948 missing in action at the end of the war. The congress of the USA passed legislation that no military efforts would be made to rescue them in 1974. It is easy to argue the interpreation of such legislation but what can not be argued is that the core of the Rolling Thunder movement is the missing in action issue. As I said earlier you can argue perceptions but tomorrow they will be real. It is a hard feeling to think that your very country will not come to your aid if such is the case. Make no mistake, the anger started boiling in me as I was walking across the bridge to the Lincoln memorial and know full well I was not a safe person to be around.
Was somewhat disappointed that I was going to have to share Lincoln with so many tourists and members of Rolling Thunder. In the past, would visit the memorial as part of a morning run at zero dark thirty while the sun was coming up behind the Washington Monument and the park service was washing the steps. As is my habit I went straight to the left of Lincoln to read the Gettysburg address and for the first time I got it.
THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
It is about commitment and commitment to something greater than self. It is about honoring those that have made such a commitment and picking up the baton they left behind when killed. It is about building something greater than has ever existed so that men and women can be free. It is not about us that have served but all of us. And so it was today;
Tomorrow, I am told there will be some 450,000 motor cycles in the Pentagon parking lot and the parade kicks off at 1200. It starts forming at 0700 and have no idea how they are going to do it. Here is a photo of a field by the :Lincoln Memorial where bikes are parked and this is only one slice of the field. Don’t know that i have ever seen so many bikes at one time. Know also there are bikes constantly moving in and out like ants in an ant hive.