Many Americans have sacrificed much in order to protect their country. This lone marine has his own special way of honoring those who have suffered in times of war.
The annual Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom has been held every Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C., since 1988. The ride is to honor the servicemen and servicewomen everywhere who are prisoners of war or who went missing in action.
United States Marine Corps Veteran Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers is known worldwide as The Saluting Marine—since 2002, Chambers has become a traditional part of Memorial Day, holding salutes that can be several hours long during the annual ride.
In April 2014, Chambers spoke with HistoryNet’s senior editor, Gerald D. Swick. He said: “The next year, 2002, I decided I should go in my dress blues. I was going to go around, shake some hands, tell these veterans ‘Thank you.’ Then I saw all these vets zooming by on motorcycles. I popped out and started saluting.”
“They just kept coming. I thought, how am I going to do this? I can’t just stop. Some of the bikers started pulling over, with tears in their eyes, as they passed by me. I felt I was touching them—in some ways, I was giving them the welcome home they hadn’t received when they came back from the war. I felt, ‘Wow, I have to be here next year,’” he added.
“I’ve been all over the country now as the Saluting Marine. I’ve had people cry and tell me things like, ‘Thank you, Tim. No one ever told me I did a good job. I was dropping bombs from thousands of feet up, and all I was told when I got home was how I had killed a lot of innocent people.’ There are a lot of unsung heroes (in wars) who were never properly recognized.”
Tim Chambers, “The Saluting Marine”, visits the Hampton V.A. and Norfolk’s Battleship Wisconsin, on 20-city “Salute Across America” tour, that ends May 27 in D.C. for final “Rolling Thunder Ride For Freedom.” It’ll be Chambers’ 18th one. #13NewsNow pic.twitter.com/deavFokWKk
— Mike Gooding 13News Now (@13MikeGooding) May 16, 2019
In 2013, Chambers stood to attention for three to four hours in the middle of the road as bikers weaved around him, in honor of all veterans. At his feet can be seen a rifle, boots, Kevlar, and flak jacket—a symbol of the veteran’s body and spirit.
Chambers stood tall and strong on hard concrete, as a symbol of strength—despite having a broken wrist. His actions are appreciated by many, as scores of veterans on their bikes salute him and thank him for continuing this cherished tradition.
“I’ve been all over the whole country because of my salute at Rolling Thunder. It’s given me many opportunities to do things for other people, and I’m grateful to the Rolling Thunder people for that,” Chambers shared.
“I’m doing something we as a nation should have done a long time ago. We’ve gone away from respect and common sense as a nation. We need to be helping each other, accepting each other. I want to unite Americans, no matter what network they watch on TV,” he continued.
To demonstrate just how much the tradition means to Chambers, he decided to marry the love of his life, Lorraine Heist, during the 2016 Thunder Ride. She is sure to be his biggest fan.
Kudos to Chambers for upholding this revered tradition!
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