In my last column I wrote about the annual Horry County ABATE Toys for Kids Run. More specifically, I wrote about how somebody stole my gloves off of my motorcycle when we stopped at the Surfside Beach McDonald’s during the Horry ABATE Toys for Kids Run; and, how a thief broke the unwritten rule among bikers that prohibits us from stealing from each other because we all have the same vulnerabilities. I noted that it was commonplace for us to leave expensive jackets, sunglasses, and helmets unattended on our motorcycles and how disappointed I was some “Son of a Grinch” stole my gloves, which were a Christmas gift from one of my kids.
I couldn’t decide whether to apologize, feel stupid, or jump for joy when I got word from my editor that Emmitt Jones, Horry County ABATE’s Chaplain, had contacted him to say he had my gloves. (I did all three.) Jones, of course, hadn’t taken my gloves, but he’d found them in the restroom of McDonald’s. I did make a pit stop when my wife, Sissy, and me stopped with the toy ride that day. In fact, when I couldn’t find my gloves on my handlebars the restroom was the first place I looked. In addition to contacting my editor, Jones sent me a private message on Facebook to tell me he’d found them, but I only log onto Facebook occasionally so I hadn’t seen the message yet. When I called Jones, he explained that he’d seen my gloves in the men’s room and he carried them around the crowd yelling, “Anyone lose gloves?” He hung onto them thinking maybe he could find their rightful owner at either the after-party or the next ABATE meeting. I guess we shouldn’t have been so quick to bail on the after-party.
Jones told me, “We were heading to Columbia in the truck and I was reading your column in the Surge and said, ‘Hey! Those must have been Big E’s gloves!’” I met up with him Wednesday (Jan. 16) at the SBB (Suck Bang Blow) parking lot in Murrells Inlet. We both had the day off and a honey-do list that day. I rode my motorcycle and because of the perfect riding weather it took everything in me to get back to my list after a taste of riding in the awesome Indian summer we were experiencing.
In the course of our conversation, Jones invited me to attend an ABATE meeting. I explained that not only have I been a member in the past, but I had been a sponsor when I owned www.RidemyrtleBeach.com. Jones has also been an active member with the local Rolling Thunder chapter. He told me that RT-3 is celebrating its 6th Anniversary and as part of the celebration he asked me to help spread the word about an important upcoming event.
On April 6, Rolling Thunder, Chapter 3 and Jud Kuhn Chevrolet are sponsoring a Salute to Women of the Military. The event will take place at 1 p.m. at the Grand Strand Senior Center, 1628 21st Avenue N. in Myrtle Beach. Anyone interested should call 910-579-3668.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Rolling Thunder, according to its national Web site at http://rollingthunder1.com, the organization was “Incorporated in 1995, Rolling Thunder, Inc. is a class 501(c)(4) non-profit organization with over 90 chartered chapters throughout the United States and members abroad. While many members of Rolling Thunder are veterans and many ride motorcycles, neither qualification is a prerequisite. Rolling Thunder members are old and young, men and women, veterans and non-veterans. All are united in the cause to bring full accountability for Prisoners Of War (POW) and Missing In Action (MIA) of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: “We Will Not Forget.” In the fall of 1987, Vietnam veterans met to discuss their personal concerns about the POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War....they were deeply troubled by the abhorrent neglect of attention given to those who did not make it out with their lives or their freedom. These veterans discussed the more than 10,000 reported sightings of live Americans living in dismal captivity…The Founders of Rolling Thunder were ordinary men who understood that they had a right to have their voices heard and proceeded to lay down the plans for a gathering in Washington, D.C. during the 1988 Memorial Day weekend. They reached out to their families, fellow veterans and veterans’ advocates to unify and form a march and demonstration in the nation’s Capital. Their arrival would be announced by the roar of their motorcycles, a sound not unlike the 1965 bombing campaign against North Vietnam dubbed Operation Rolling Thunder. Hence, they would call themselves ‘Rolling Thunder’ a title that would endure time and be trademarked in 1990. Word spread quickly and by Memorial Day weekend in 1988, approximately 2,500 motorcycles from all over the country converged on Washington, D.C. to demand from our leaders a full accounting of all POW/MIAs….The number of participants/spectators in the Memorial Day weekend Ride for Freedom has grown from 2,500 to an estimated 900,000.”
Sissy and I have ridden in the national ride twice, which parades through Washington, D.C., ending at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, and it is one of the most moving events in which I have ever participated – motorcycle-related or not. The 26th annual Rolling Thunder Ride takes place on May 26. Riders should assemble by noon in the north parking lot of the Pentagon building located at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and Fern Street in Arlington, Va. For more information, visit www.rollingthundergrandstrand.com.