The event, previously known as "Rolling Thunder," is organized by AmVets, a "Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization, representing the interests of 20 million veterans" and gathers together veterans and their motorcycles for a genuinely thunderous and physical show of advocacy and support.
The permit is so that they can use part of the Pentagon's expansive parking area for staging purposes and is a major element of the logistics for the event which has in years past routinely attracted 350,000-plus motorcycles and a million visitors overall.
The reason for the denial? You know the reason.
The department took into careful consideration all aspects of AMVETS request, to include the current Health Protection Condition status on the Pentagon Reservation; substantial community transmission of COVID-19 in Arlington County, Virginia; number of Americans fully vaccinated across the nation; nature of this event with its decreased ability to maintain physical distance; and large crowds in one location for an extended period of time.
They are telling people who ride motorcycles that life is risky.
They are telling military veterans who volunteered to be shot at by people who wanted to kill them that life is risky.
If they didn't like risk, they'd be accountants and driving practical family sedans.
Sources tell 7News someone very high up at the Pentagon doesn't like the optics of this event during a pandemic.
Great, social media interns are running the Pentagon now.
How about these optics:
I-Team Reporter Scott Taylor asked: "These military vets are coming to Washington, D.C. regardless if the Pentagon participates or not, correct?"
"You are absolutely right," said Chenelly. "We are seeing it on websites and social media all over the place. Much smaller groups. They're planning their own smaller rallying points and they're coming in."
Which means a potential traffic nightmare for the District. Multiple staging areas all over the DMV before thousands of veterans on motorcycles head over to the National Mall.
And Memorial Day is still a month away. At nearly 3 million doses being delivered a day that's another 86-million-plus doses nationwide. We'll be well over 50% with one shot by Memorial weekend. Plus, add in all the natural herd immunity we've developed by now.
Not only that, but they'd be gathering OUTSIDE, in a large parking lot. I've been outside, maskless, since the pandemic started. I've even been in large crowds, tens of thousands, the large majority of whom were not a part of my household. I have passed by complete strangers on the sidewalk, and even exchanged greetings!
The vets are also trying to secure an alternative staging area at RFK stadium which is in Washington DC. I hope they get it, but the Pentagon is within walking distance to my house, and I've enjoyed watching, and more importantly, hearing, the motorcycles swarm my neighborhood, their American flags, service flags, POW/MIA flags waving behind them.
2019 was supposed to be the last big ride, but it has been reconstituted as "Rolling to Remember" to continue what has transformed into a grand American tradition that celebrates honor, sacrifice, and courage beyond measure.
Maybe someone in Defense Department could ponder that for a moment.