Rolling Thunder Bikes Blessed at National Cathedral

By Adam Tuss
|  Saturday, May 24, 2014  |  Updated 7:33 AM EDT
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Thousands of motorcycle riders are heading to our area for the Memorial Day weekend Rolling Thunder.  They gather every year to pay tribute to servicemen and women.  This year, a special ceremony at the National Cathedral welcomed them for the first time.  Transportation reporter Adam Tuss attended the event.

Adam Tuss

Thousands of motorcycle riders are heading to our area for the Memorial Day weekend Rolling Thunder. They gather every year to pay tribute to servicemen and women. This year, a special ceremony at the National Cathedral welcomed them for the first time. Transportation reporter Adam Tuss attended the event.

Rolling Thunder kicked off this Memorial Day weekend with a new event: The Blessing of the Bikes at National Cathedral Friday.

Sunday’s Ride for Freedom traditionally honors the nation’s veterans, and the National Cathedral has a long history of honoring our service members, too. Inside, there's an entire war memorial chapel. The crown above Jesus's head is a halo of brass and aluminum shapes evoking cannon shells and shrapnel. The Pentagon memorial cross is made from the rubble of the Pentagon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Bikes piled in at the cathedral for the blessing.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial also was crowded Friday, and single roses lined parts of the wall. Joe Miller, a Vietnam veteran from North Carolina, came for rolling thunder and to honor a fallen friend – Kenneth Olson.

“So I come back and pay tribute to those that didn't come back," he said.

He's taking home an etching of his friend’s name.

The actual rolling thunder event is Sunday morning, but expect to see motorcycles around throughout the weekend.

Drivers should expect delays Sunday morning on some key D.C.-area roads as the Ride for Freedom takes place. The Virginia Department of Transportation says beginning about 8 a.m., thousands of motorcyclists will crowd Interstate 95 and Interstate 66 as they head to the Pentagon. At noon, the riders will leave the Pentagon and go to the National Mall.

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