September 15, 2013. As I entered the Garden State Arts Center, I saw that the large main parking lot was reserved. Obviously this was going to be a very big event ! They did have a small area for non-bikers and I parked there. As I walked up to the Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center, I found the museum parking was also reserved for a special speakers platform plus food and military accessory vendors.
My first stop was the Burlington County Military Affairs Committee who were raffling off a beautiful 2013 Harley, so I purchased a ticket from the man at the right. Proceeds went to a very worthwhile charity !
Shortly after my arrival, a small group of bikers drove up to the VIP area, and I found out this was the Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 Honor Guard. Rolling Thunder Chapter 2, was the sponsor and organizer of this special event.
This gentleman answered my questions about Gold Star Mothers and by coincidence, one of the mothers showed up as we spoke.
I started taking jacket photos of the various organizations participating today and soon discovered that there were so many, I could have spend hours seeking them out, so I just documented a few.
I had a chat with these two gentleman, who along with another group of bikers came all the way from Canada. Their trip was uneventful but they did have a little rain on the way south. They they started their travel on Friday September 13 to get here.
At the very beginning of the formal program, men carried in a Vietnam Veteran who demonstrated the tiny, painful, cage that the POW's had to endure while captured. It was a most striking demonstration.
Next on the program was the color guard, who were front and center for the pledge of allegiance. Music from the Loch Rannock Pipes and Drums Core added patriotic melodies to set the mood.
Crystal Adams sung a beautiful National Anthem.
There were a few guest speakers, with comments about the support of our troops and the continuing effort to get our POW's returned.
At the conclusion of the formal speakers, everyone walked down to the WALL, where the wreaths were to be laid. The Vietnam Veterans had a strategy meeting inside the tunnel, laying out the order of the wreath presentations. At the beginning of the ceremony, the color guard marched in and stood front and center.
Eight different groups presented wreaths.
When this veteran was announced, there was a loud applause because he is a WWII vet who survived the Battle of the Bulge.
At the conclusion of the proceedings, Crystal Adams sang a beautiful, very moving version of Amazing Grace, and Major Ian Cairns, US Army Ranger, played taps.
Our thanks to Chapter 2 of the Rolling Thunder organization for their superb show of patriotism, support of our troops and their continuing efforts to bring our POW's and MIA's home.
HERE to see photos inside the Vietnam Era Museum