President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that the Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride would be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, despite the fact that the group had previously announced that this year’s Memorial Day weekend ride was planned to be their final one due to financial struggle.
The much-anticipated Rolling Thunder rally took place in D.C. for the last time on May 26 with the participation of hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists. The yearly event aims to draw attention to service members killed in action or became prisoners of war.
The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, & hopefully for many years to come. It is where they want to be, & where they should be. Have a wonderful time today. Thank you to our great men & women of the Pentagon for working it out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2019
Speaking to CNN later on Sunday, Rolling Thunder President Joe Bean confirmed that this was the end of the decades-old tradition. “This is our final ride in Washington, D.C. Until we can get into the White House and talk to President Trump and see what he can do for us — this is our final ride in Washington,” Bean said.
The group’s founder Artie Muller said on Monday that he is looking forward to meeting with the president about continuing the ride, according to Fox News.
In the meantime, some Twitter users expressed gratitude in response to Trump’s support for the Rolling Thunder ride:
Thank’s POTUS. Great example of what government should help with!
— Patrick Bauer (@PatrickBauer19) May 27, 2019
Awesome, Mr. President
— dljosse (@Davidle20893413) May 27, 2019
The group first announced in December 2018 that it decided to put an end to the Memorial Day ride, citing extremely high costs — about $200,000 per event.
The Washington Post also reported that the group complained about a lack of cooperation from the Pentagon, which according to Rolling Thunder representatives prohibited the sale of its merchandise and limited the involvement of sponsors.
Regarding the allegations, Defense Department spokeswoman Sue Gaugh told the Washington Post that “the Pentagon is prepared to support the 2019 Rolling Thunder ride as we have for the last 31 years.”
After Sunday’s run, the group will keep holding regional rallies in various states.
The veterans advocacy group was formed in 1987 by Vietnam veteran Muller with the mission of bringing attention to U.S. soldiers killed or missing in action (MIA) and prisoners of war (POW).
After starting with 2,500 motorcycles and riders, the group’s Memorial Day event managed to gather over a million riders and spectators together as “an emotional display of patriotism and respect for all who defend our country.”