Iowa parents remember son during annual tradition's last ride

Rolling Thunder's final tour through D.C. draws hundreds of thousands (Source: Gray DC)
Rolling Thunder's final tour through D.C. draws hundreds of thousands (Source: Gray DC)(GRAYDC)
Published: May. 27, 2019 at 8:55 AM EDT
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Hundreds of thousands rev their motorcycles through the nation’s capital in salute to the memory of family and brothers-in-arms.

The roar of the engines lasted for hours as Rolling Thunder took D.C. by storm. The annual event grew into a national movement over nearly 40 year, but final year for the tradition is a first for Tim and Anita Yancey.

“We were totally honored to be able to pay our respects,” said Tim, a Gold Star parent and veteran himself.

The Yancey’s son Dustin died while serving in Iraq 14 years ago. On this trip, they visited his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery and embraced his memory throughout Sunday’s ride. “We feel him in that, and just about anything we do anymore,” said Tim.

“I know it would mean the world to him,” Anita said of what their son would have thought of the trip, “he would probably be just as honored that we came as we were that he served and gave all.”

Every member of the veteran’s group from the Cedar Rapids area could call upon the memory of a lost friend or family member.

Tony ‘Vooch’ Emanuel’s says he couldn’t stop thinking about his family members who did make it home. “It meant a lot to me,” he said, “I do know several Vietnam vets, my father was a Vietnam vet as well, I have two uncles who served in Vietnam, both in the Marine Corps, so it was very special to me.”

Event organizers said they have to cancel future Rolling Thunder parades through D.C. because the cost of putting it together has grown out-of-control.

These Iowans said whatever they do next year, the theme will be the same, honoring the sacrifices made by so many in service to the country.

There is a flicker of hope this holiday weekend that Rolling Thunder could return next year. That’s because the president is promising to help pick up the tab.

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