Two weeks ago I spent an emotional Memorial Day weekend with my brother Dan, my niece's husband, Jason Redfern, and my Brothers and Sisters In Arms at Rolling Thunder in Washington D.C. There is a certain bond that exists between those who have served and those currently watching over us that only a person who served can relate to.
Rolling Thunder is not only a veteran's bike rally to honor those who paid the ultimate price. It is also a place for ALL veterans regardless whether you ride or not to pay homage to the fallen and to each other. There were just as many veterans lining the sidewalks and watching the 8 hour parade of motorcycles down Constitution Avenue as they were riding in it.
I have experienced the bond that exists between a Marine and a Corpsman, but what I learned that weekend was how deep this bond truly runs. We stood watching the parade of motorcycles thundering down the avenue when an old Marine Vietnam Veteran came up to me wearing a weathered vest full of patches and was an obvious long time participant of Rolling Thunder. He grabbed my hand in both of his and while shaking it, tearfully said, "Thank You, Doc, For What You Do." I, in turn, thanked him for his service and, with a smile, the old Marine Vet continued on his way. I told my brother that somewhere along the way a Corpsman had pulled that Marine out of a tight spot and he never forgot it.
We may our way around to all the War Memorials and while taking a picture at the Iwo Jima Memorial I hear off to my left, "Ooo Rah, Doc." After my brother snapped the picture, I spotted three men off to my left who turned out to be Marine Veterans of Desert Storm. One of them had sustained a serious wound and after the Corpsman tended to him, Ol' Doc stayed by his side until he was safely tucked away and med evaced out. He said if it wasn't for that Corpsman he might not have been shaking hands with me that day. And so it went that whole weekend!
And finally, our last visit was to Arlington Cemetary. As we were leaving, we were steered toward the Women Of The Military Memorial. We went inside and if you knew someone who gave it all since Desert Storm they would look up their name and make a yellow ribbon with their name on it for you to wear in their honor. If you didn't have anyone, they would give you a ribbon with a random name on it. The name my brother got was from Indiana where we were born and grew up. The name I got was from Cabot, Arkansas, my Dad's home state and the town where the Payne family lived for a time. Coincidence? I'll let you decide!
It was an emotional and, at times, an overwhelming weekend. If I attended the next 20 Rolling Thunders, I'll never again experience the emotions I felt on my first trip!
Thank You, Dear Brother, For Suggesting I Come. I Hope We Get To Do It Together Again!
BEFORE THEY CALL FOR GOD AND BEFORE THEY CALL FOR MOM, THEY CALL FOR DOC! OOO-RAH!!