Showing posts with label Rolling Thunder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rolling Thunder. Show all posts

Monday, September 23, 2019

AMVETS taking over rolling the thunder in Washington

It's Official: AMVETS Will Hold Memorial Day Rally in D.C. to Replace 'Rolling Thunder'
By Richard Sisk
21 Sep 2019
The 2020 events will be held to "to make the nation, especially our voters, aware of what is happening, what isn't happening and what needs to happen to address our POWs, our MIAs, and our veterans and active-duty service members who are dying by suicide," Chenelly said in a statement.
Ray Weaver, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, supports Rolling Thunder 2017. (Joshua L. DeMotts/U.S. Air Force)
AMVETS made it official Friday: A "Rolling Thunder"-style motorcycle rally will take place next Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C., to honor the nation's veterans, POWs and missing-in-action.

In a release and at a news conference, leaders of the veterans service organization American Veterans, better known as AMVETS, said they would continue the tradition of the annual three-day rally of thousands of motorcyclists in the nation's capital for the 2020 Memorial Day.

Last year, Artie Muller, long-time leader of the Rolling Thunder rallies that rumbled through Washington for 32 years, cited escalating costs, stating that the 2019 rally would be the last, although local chapters around the country might sponsor their own events.
read it here

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

POTUS sent executive Tweet to Rolling Thunder?

President Trump Said He Rescued the Rolling Thunder Tribute to POWs. It's Not That Simple

MAY 26, 2019

Despite Trump’s tweet, Rolling Thunder’s founder and executive director Artie Muller affirmed again on Sunday this was the last year for the event in the nation’s capital.

In reference to the President’s comments, Muller said on C-Span that nothing had changed. “I know he means well, but I don’t know what the story is with them working it out with us,” Muller, a Vietnam War veteran, said. “There’d have to be a lot of discussion and a lot of changes for everybody that comes here and our organization that helps put this together.”

Rolling Thunder has held its motorcycle demonstration ride every Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, D.C., for more than three decades—which is why the nonprofit veteran advocacy group’s announcement last fall that 2019 would be the ride’s last year concerned many.

The news made it all the way to President Donald Trump, who tweeted from Japan on Saturday with a pledge to help. On Sunday, he weighed in again––this time declaring that Rolling Thunder would continue in Washington next year, implying he had fixed the problem.

“The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, and hopefully for many years to come,” he said. “It is where they want to be, and where they should be.”

Donald J. Trump
The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, and hopefully for many years to come. It is where they want to be, and where they should be. Have a wonderful time today. Thank you to our great men and women of the Pentagon for working it out!

Rolling Thunder has organized an annual rally in Washington for 32 years, inviting veterans and bikers to ride together to voice support of veterans missing in action and kept as prisoners of war.
read more here

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Rolling Thunder took over Washington for last ride

Rolling Thunder takes its final ride in Washington

The Washington Post
By Jessica Contrera
May 26 at 4:26 PM
There was a line to see the man in charge.

“Artie,” people called.

“Artie, did you see?”

“Artie,” they said. “You gotta do something.”

It was the Sunday before Memorial Day, and in Washington, that has long meant that one of the world’s largest motorcycle rallies was in town. Every year since 1988, riders have roared into the District for “Rolling Thunder,” a demonstration in support of veterans, prisoners of war and service members who went missing in action. But this year, the organization’s leader, Artie Muller, had announced that the financial and logistical burden of making the rally happen had become too much; after 2019, the event in the nation’s capital would be no more.

The news inspired hundreds of thousands of bikers, likely a record-breaking number, to flock to the Pentagon parking lot Sunday morning, ready for their final ride into the city and around the National Mall.
read more here

Rolling Thunder's Last Ride in DC

Rolling To A Halt: Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally Ends 30-Year Tradition

May 25, 2019

Roll on, no more.

After a three-decade run, a veteran advocacy group will hold its last motorcycle demonstration ride — called "Rolling Thunder" — in the U.S. capital this Memorial Day weekend.
U.S. Marine Tim Chambers salutes to participants in last year's Rolling Thunder motorcycle demonstration. Jose Luis Magana/AP

The nonprofit that organizes the rally, Rolling Thunder Inc., was founded in the late 1980s to bring public attention to prisoners of war and those missing in action and to hold the government to account for veterans who never made it home.

"We signed basically a blank check that said, 'I'll give you up to – and including – my life to defend our Constitution and defend the American freedoms,' " Doc Stewart, the group's New England regional liaison, told NPR's Amy Held. " 'But the return is, you're going to ensure that I come home afterwards.' "

Every year, hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists converge near the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., then rumble through the city's downtown.

But next year's Memorial Day weekend will be a quiet one.

The main reason the organizers gave for calling it quits is financial; it costs them about $200,000 last year to hold the rally, WAMU's Mikaela Lefrak reports. A lot of that money went to the Pentagon for things like security, toilets and parking lot use, according to Rolling Thunder President Joe Bean.
read more here

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Last ride for Rolling Thunder?

Rolling Thunder: Lack of money to silence POW/MIA support run

Smyrna-Clayton Sun Times
Jeff Brown
January 30, 2019

For the past 30 years, Rolling Thunder has sponsored a ride to Washington, D.C. to remind the public about POWs and MIAs. This year will be its last.
The rumble of motorcycles rolling across the nation’s capital in memory of America’s missing service members and prisoners of war is on the road to becoming a thing of the past.

The yearly event, sponsored by the New Jersey-based Rolling Thunder, Inc., will end with its 32nd ride in May 2019, Executive Director Artie Muller and President Joe Bean announced in December.

Since 1988, Rolling Thunder’s annual First Amendment Demonstration Ride has seen hundreds of thousands of bikers and supporters converge on Washington, D.C., in support of the MIA/POW cause. The first event attracted about 2,000 bikers; more than a half-million turned out for the 2018 event.

Delawareans who ride in support of Rolling Thunder were shocked to learn the news.
Bikers coming in from across the country traditionally assemble in parking lots around the Pentagon, where Rolling Thunder would sell products such as pins, patches, and flags to raise additional money.

A particular point of contention, according to Muller, was a growing lack of cooperation with security forces at the Pentagon who he accused of diverting the bikers and not allowing them to enter the parking lots, which also prevented participants from buying Rolling Thunder products.

Department of Defense spokeswoman Susan L. Gough has denied those charges, saying the DoD is focused on supporting Rolling Thunder’s right to protest while at the same time ensuring the safety and security of both the bikers and the Pentagon complex itself.
read more here

Friday, December 14, 2018

Rolling Thunder DC Ride Ending After 2019

Rolling Thunder to end annual Memorial Day ride in DC after 2019

Published: December 13, 2018
The ride started in 1988 with about 2,000 riders, Muller said. In 2018, there were more than 500,000.
The rain didn't stop motorcyclists from taking part in the 30th anniversary of Rolling Thunder on Sunday, May 28, 2017, in Washington. AMANDA L. TRYPANIS/STARS AND STRIPES

WASHINGTON – Rolling Thunder will no longer hold its annual Memorial Day motorcycle ride through Washington, D.C., after 2019, the group’s founder announced Thursday.

The tradition is ending because of escalating costs and a lack of cooperation from the Pentagon and metropolitan police departments, said Artie Muller, a Vietnam veteran and founder of Rolling Thunder, Inc.

“It has been a hard decision to make,” Muller wrote in a letter that he plans to send to supporters in January. “After much discussion and thought over the last six months, Rolling Thunder National Officers have concluded to end our 32-year annual D.C. Memorial weekend event.”

Rolling Thunder is a nonprofit organization that honors prisoners of war and servicemembers missing in action. Its “Ride for Freedom” through Washington every Memorial Day weekend draws thousands of riders and onlookers.
Costs for the 2018 ride totaled more than $200,000, Muller said. The nonprofit hasn’t been able to recruit a new corporate sponsor, and Rolling Thunder didn’t sell enough merchandise, such as patches, pins and flags.
read more here

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hundreds Ride to Escort Vietnam Memorial Wall in Michigan

Motorcyclists escort Vietnam Memorial Wall replica to honor veterans
Up North Live
June 19th 2017
"We have a lot of things to overcome, but to me, this is one sign of brotherhood camaraderie coming together to support."
Richard Quinlan
MANISTEE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU)-- Hundreds of motorcyclists rode in honor of our Vietnam veterans on Friday. It was the eighth annual Vietnam War Memorial Escort.

Richard Quinlan is a Vietnam war veteran. He says when he served, he was just doing what needed to be done. "Somebody has to stand up for what America believes in, and at that time, we were the ones that had to stand up," said Quinlan. 

Fred Nelson, also a Vietnam war veteran, now works with the group Rolling Thunder, an organization dedicated to helping veterans with events such as the wall escort.
read more here

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Billy Ray Cyrus to Honor Vietnam Veteran During Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom

Billy Ray Cyrus Owes His Career to a Vietnam Veteran
FOX News
By PopZette Staff
May 16, 2017

'Weston Lee died serving our country, and we should all be forever grateful for his service,' said the singer
Billy Ray Cyrus says he owes his success to a Vietnam veteran.

Cyrus will perform on May 28 in Washington, D.C., during the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom. It’s an annual motorcycle rally that ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and honors fallen servicemen and women.

He will perform the tune “Some Gave All,” which is about serving in the military.

“This is a full-circle moment, because a week after ‘Some Gave All’ came out, I stood at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall during Rolling Thunder with Don Von Tress, who is not only the writer of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ but also a Vietnam veteran. That man and that song changed my life,” Cyrus said in a press release.
read more here

Monday, March 20, 2017

84 Year old Veteran Evicted--Community Stepped Up!

Groups step in to help 84-year-old Rock Hill veteran who faced evictions
Andrews Dys
March 20, 2017

The veteran told police money was missing from his bank accounts, a bank card had been stolen, and money from benefits that he had for rent and utilities was missing.
“The police helped him and he may have been swindled out of his money,” Guest said. “There were some choice words used for someone ... who would take an elderly veteran’s money. You can’t print those words in the newspaper.”

Read more here:

Veterans services and veterans advocacy groups worked Monday to get help for an 84-year-old veteran who had faced eviction and homelessness.
The Rock Hill chapter of Rolling Thunder, a veterans advocacy group, had $500 in gift cards and cash for the veteran, and was organizing more to help the man long-term.

The veteran faced homelessness last week in sub freezing temperatures, had it not been for some fast-acting law enforcement officers.

And as people mobilized to help him, some of the veteran’s belongings were thrown in a trash container and hauled away Monday from the house where he lived on Eden Terrace, across the street from Winthrop Coliseum. Court records show the eviction was legal, even if one of the people affected was “too frail to be put out into the cold,” as police put it.

“I drove by the house last week and saw all the stuff thrown in a heap outside and like anybody else, I didn’t know what happened until I read it in The Herald,” said Al Guest, president of Rock Hill’s Rolling Thunder chapter and a Vietnam War combat veteran. “Then when I read that he was a veteran and evicted, and could have frozen outside, I was upset.”
The story published in The Herald spread through social media and has been shared and commented on hundreds of times.
read more here

Friday, June 17, 2016

More Than 500 Bikes in New Hampshire For Rolling Thunder Freedom Ride

Veterans on motorcycles ride to bring home POWs, MIA soldiers
Rolling Thunder Freedom Ride now in its 23rd year
Kristen Pope
Published Jun 16, 2016

MEREDITH, N.H. —More than 500 people took over the streets of Meredith Thursday in the 23rd Rolling Thunder Freedom Ride.

The annual ride is to show solidarity with prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.

“You know the old saying: You don’t ever leave anybody behind,” said Vietnam War veteran Claire Starnes. "The mission of the Rolling Thunder is concentrating on bringing back all the POWs and MIAs.”

Starnes is committed to that mission.

“We're going to die or bring them home,” she said. “Even if it’s just the remains. We're going to find them and bring them home.”

It’s easy to marvel over the beautiful, shiny bikes, but the ride is really about people who aren’t here.

“We cover each other,” said veteran Timothy McCarthy. “No matter what happens. We’re all family. It’s another family.”

The ride started at Lowe’s parking lot in Gilford and ended at Hesky Park in Meredith.
read more here

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Welcome Home Last Patrol Remembrance From Rolling Thunder

‘Welcome Home’ event aimed at saluting Vietnam veterans
Tampa Tribune
Linda Chion Kenney
Special Correspondent
April 20, 2016

“We don’t make the policies,” he said. “We don’t make those decisions. We follow the orders we’re given. We perform our duties. We perform our duties and serve with honor.”
U.S. Navy commander and Vietnam veteran Bradley E. Smith Ex-POW
After “The Last Patrol” performance by Rolling Thunder, members, from left, Mike Vitel, Doc Watson and Bill Marion pose by a Vietnam-era helicopter at the Vietnam Memorial at Hillsborough County’s Veterans Memorial Park. LINDA CHION KENNEY
TAMPA — Soldiers seasoned and battle-scarred, and the people who support them, stood in solidarity and solemnity March 26 at Veterans Memorial Park, where “welcome home” was the order of the day for the men and women called to service in the Vietnam War era.

In her very personal remarks, chaplain Linda J. Pugsley, a retired lieutenant colonel, who volunteered for two tours of duty in Vietnam as an aeromedical evacuation nurse, recounted the “soaking, soaking rains” and the “scorching, scorching heat” of Vietnam.

“We are valiant people who served with unswerving bravery in that hostile, unfriendly, ungodly Vietnam,” said Pugsley, who in 1978 resigned her position as flight nurse with the rank of major, to pursue her career in the ministry. “We served our country and our fellow warriors in that most brutal and unwise war. Some of us saw mayhem that none of us should have seen, yet we did not run.”

Vietnam veterans are heroes, she added, deserving of appreciation for “what they did and all that they gave up.”
read more here

Friday, January 29, 2016

Seat Saved At Soldier's Field for Missing in Action

Empty seat at Soldier Field dedicated to POWs, MIAs
Chicago Tribune
Brianna Gurciullo
January 28, 2016
The open seat, which is fenced off between an American flag and POW/MIA flag, honors prisoners of war and service members declared missing in action.

Rolling Thunder, Illinois Chapter One, members Kandice Jacobs, from left
Gary Bills and Dina Derman look at a chair dedicated to prisoners of war
and missing in action military personnel after a ceremony at Soldier Field
on Jan. 28, 2016. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Rolling Thunder members, donning leather jackets with biker patches, hats and sunglasses, filed by a lone chair, plaque and set of flags Thursday afternoon at Soldier Field.

Some stopped and saluted. A man and woman stood arm in arm and looked at the arrangement.

"America the Beautiful" played over speakers. Later, snow flurries began to fall as several members posed for a photo together.
More than 83,000 military personnel remain missing from conflicts as long ago as World War II, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
read more here

Friday, June 26, 2015

Chief Master Sergeant Edwin E. Morgan Sr Escort Home

Vietnam veteran's remains return to NC
Dan Yesenosky
June 25, 2015
The Patriot Guard is escorting the remains to a funeral home in Rockwell.
(Photo: NBC Charlotte)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Vietnam War veteran missing in action for close to 50 years is back on U.S. soil. The remains of Chief Master Sergeant Edwin E. Morgan Sr. landed in Charlotte Thursday afternoon just after noon.

"This is a man who at 17 years old joined the service, actually he started in the Navy, then he went to the Army and then to the Air Force," said Patriot Guard C.W. Smith.

Edwin Morgan had been Missing In Action for 49 years.

"In 1966 his plane went down," Smith said.

Today he is home. The organization "Rolling Thunder Washington, D.C." says Morgan's remains had been identified through a match in dental records and landed at Charlotte Douglas Airport. The remains were carried from the plane and put into the hearse.

A massive procession of over 100 motorcycles escorted him 47 miles to Rockwell in Rowan County, where he'll be buried next to his wife.

"This is a man who wrote his name on a blank check," Smith said. "It was filled out to pay to the order of the United States of America. Unfortunately on the amount paid was the ultimate sacrifice of his life."

Morgan was 38 years old at the time in 1966, but through all these years he was never forgotten.
read more here

Saturday, September 13, 2014

South Carolina’s Day of Recognition for Veterans’ Spouses and Families

Veterans, families join in bill signing
September 12, 2014
“All military wives deserve this day,” said Gino Del Buono of Rolling Thunder and a Navy veteran of 30 years.

Gov. Nikki Haley signs the bill designating the day after Thanksgiving as a day of recognition for veterans’ families. S.C. Rep. Raye Felder (in black jacket, red blouse) stands behind Haley. York County veteran Harvey Mayhill (in suit with patriotic tie) standing to the right the governor.
PROVIDED BY S.C. REP. RAYE FELDER — Provided by S.C. Rep. Raye Felder

As state holidays go, it won’t be a day of parades or grand speeches.

But on South Carolina’s Day of Recognition for Veterans’ Spouses and Families – the day after Thanksgiving – there should be more than just a day of thanks, say those who advocated for the day. It should be a day of action and not words, they say.

Gov. Nikki Haley celebrated the new state day of recognition on Friday with a ceremonial signing of a bill that passed through the Legislature unanimously on its second try this year.

Surrounding Haley at the bill signing in Columbia were veterans and their families.

Spouses and their families, said Harvey Mayhill, an Air Force veteran and Rock Hill resident, “are pretty much alone without support,” when loved ones are deployed.

They go through “just as much hell as veterans deployed,” Mayhill said. “They are veterans in a different way that support this country.”
read more here

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Australia Rolling Thunder Vietnam More Than Music

Rolling Thunder Vietnam delivers history via the big hits of the era
AUGUST 23, 2014

The show features screens that play archival footage from the Vietnam War.

WHEN musician Wes Carr was ­approached about performing in Rolling Thunder Vietnam, it was the thought of his two-year-old son one day being conscripted into national service that brought home the project.

A “concert drama” about the Vietnam War, told from a predominantly Australian perspective, Carr plays a young Sydney man who is conscripted in the ­National Ballot.
Almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam between 1963 and 1973.

More than 1000 were wounded and 521 were killed.

“Although I studied the Vietnam War growing up, ­essentially (I knew about it) through the music (of the era),” Carr says.

“Then I read the script and ­I started thinking about how if in 17 years time they called my son up to go to a war where they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into, as a father they’d have to lock me up before they could get to him.”

Subtitled Songs That ­Defined A Generation, Rolling Thunder Vietnam boasts a kick-arse selection of 20 ­classic hits including War, The Real Thing, Born To Be Wild, Killing Me Softly With His Song, Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy, All Along The Watchtower and We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place.
read more here

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Ride to The Wall

Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Ride To The Wall Covered by CSPAN leaves a huge question. With so many so concerned about veterans, how could these videos have so few views?

  • [alt text]

    Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Ride, Part 5

    Members of the Rolling Thunder veterans' advocacy group were seen riding across the Arlington Memorial Bridge that spans the Potomac River connecting downtown Washington, D.C., and Memorial…
  • [alt text]

    Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Ride, Part 4

    A live scene was shown of the Rolling Thunder XXVII “Ride for Freedom.” Members of the Rolling Thunder veterans' advocacy group were seen riding across the Arlington Memorial…
  • [alt text]

    Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Ride, Part 3

    A live scene was shown of the Rolling Thunder XXVII “Ride for Freedom.” Members of the Rolling Thunder veterans' advocacy group were seen riding across the Arlington Memorial…
  • [alt text]

    Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Ride, Part 2

    A live scene was shown of the Rolling Thunder XXVII “Ride for Freedom.” Members of the Rolling Thunder veterans' advocacy group were seen riding across the Arlington Memorial…
  • [alt text]

    Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Ride, Part 1

    A live scene was shown of the Rolling Thunder XXVII “Ride for Freedom.” Members of the Rolling Thunder veterans' advocacy group were seen riding across the Arlington Memorial…

Monday, September 23, 2013

Veteran and Rolling Thunder founder devotes life to honoring POW/MIA

Veteran and Rolling Thunder founder devotes life to honoring POW/MIA
Loudon Times
by Andrew Sharbel, Times-Mirror Staff Writer
Sep. 20, 2013
Rolling Thunder founder Walt Sides of Round Hill, left, and Board of Directors member Rob Wilkins of Lansdowne pose on their motorcycles at Sides’ home, also the Rolling Thunder headquarters, on Sept. 18.
Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Through the past six world conflicts, unbeknownst to many, there is an astounding number of prisoners of war and missing in action service members.

According to the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, from World War II to present time, there are more than 83,000 Americans still listed as unaccounted for or missing.

Four men started a rally 26 years ago for those 83,000.

Every Memorial Day since 1988, veterans and their rumbling engines roar into the D.C. area from the north, south and west to remember their fallen and missing brothers in arms.

Rolling Thunder, a motorcycle ride stretching from the North Pentagon parking lot over the Memorial Bridge past the Lincoln Memorial, around the National Mall to West Potomac Park, has grown during the last 26 years to become the largest single day event in the world.

Today the nation celebrates POW/MIA Recognition Day and Rolling Thunder Washington D.C. Inc. will be holding a ceremony on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to remember those who placed their country's well-being above their own.

Rolling Thunder has made it their duty to never forget those who have been lost.
read more here

Monday, August 5, 2013

South Carolina community welcomes home soldier wounded in Afghanistan

Rock Hill welcomes home soldier wounded in Afghanistan
By Jie Jenny Zou
Published: August 4, 2013
Aliyah hangs onto the arm of her dad, Army Spc. Michael Millwood, as members of the community welcome him home from Walter Reed hospital Sunday.
STEPHANIE MARKS MARTELL — Special to the Herald

The road along Bonnybrook Circle in Rock Hill was studded with little American flags staked into lawns and mailboxes adorned with yellow ribbons. Star-shaped balloons wavered in the light breeze on a balmy Sunday afternoon.

Then came the sounds of a fire engine, followed by the rumbling of hundreds of motorcycles and a cheering crowd.

Army Spc. Michael Millwood had returned home.

More than 100 friends, family and community members waited anxiously for the arrival of Millwood, who was returning home for the first time since an injury in Afghanistan shattered the femur bone in his leg earlier this year.

“He’s a lucky boy,” said his grandfather, Mike Bailey, 69. Bailey and his wife welcomed their grandson, along with his wife and kids, into the yard of Baileys’ home, which had been set up with lawn chairs and tents.

Dressed in a collared shirt and slacks, the 24-year-old Millwood was escorted by an array of military groups and local emergency personnel, including the recently returned Rock Hill-based Army National Guard 178th Engineer battalion, Patriot Guard Riders of South Carolina, Rolling Thunder of York County and Fire and Iron of York County.
read more here

Monday, May 27, 2013

Washington taken over by rev of half a million motorcycles

Rolling Thunder 2013
Veterans, POWs Honored In Nation's Capital
With Annual Motorcycle Rally (PHOTOS) (VIDEO)
Posted: 05/27/2013

Rolling Thunder 2013
WASHINGTON -- On Sunday, many thousands of motorcyclists rode from the Pentagon to the National Mall, ending their 10-mile trip near the Lincoln Memorial.

2013 marks the 26th Rolling Thunder -- an annual rally that honors veterans and fallen soldiers, and raises awareness about prisoners of war and soldiers who are missing in action.

By some estimates, this year's event brought some 500,000 riders to the nation's capital.
(Go to the link above for the video and more great pictures.)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Members of Rolling Thunder clean THE WALL and heal their souls

Cleaning Vietnam Memorial Proves Healing for Veterans 
Voice of America
Julie Taboh
May 17, 2013

Under a newly-risen sun in Washington, D.C., a group of men and women are elbow deep in soapsuds.

They are members of Rolling Thunder, a group dedicated to raising awareness about American prisoners of war and those still missing in action.

Armed with buckets and brushes, they wash the granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which bears the names of 58,286 U.S. service members who were killed or declared missing in action during the two-decade-long conflict, which ended in 1975.
read more here