JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The American Veterans organization unfortunately had to cancel its Rolling Thunder Memorial Day tradition in Washington D.C. due to Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean the group isn’t focusing on the POW-MIA soldiers, along with numerous veterans.
President Trump welcomed more than a dozen members of the organization to the White House on Friday, but this is way less than the normal 500,000 riders that come to the nation’s capital for the annual event.
Due to coronavirus cancelling the ceremony, AMVETS came up with an alternative. This includes a member from the organization riding from one state to another and handing off a shadow box with an American Flag and a POW-MIA flag to another member waiting at the state border.
“They’re calling it like its a Pony Express, they started in California and they took it to the state line and they met with a rider from that staff and he took it to the next state,” AMVETS Department of Tennessee Public Relations Officer Rob Watkins said.
The riders are scheduled to meet at the Tennessee-Virginia border at the Virginia Welcome Center off I-81 at 3:15 Sunday morning. Watkins hopes this event can shed light on the POW-MIA issue and veterans’ struggles.
“It’s going to be a public awareness campaign to get their families and other people in the community to recognize someone’s in trouble, someone’s got issues.” Watkins said. “(It) identifies this year, in addition to the normal MIA/POW remembrance, but also bring awareness to the 22 veterans that commit suicide a day.”
Community members can help out the organization on Sunday by either riding 22 miles or donating 22 dollars.