Inside the Beltway: A legislative win for Rolling Thunder's 'chair of honor' dedicated to MIAs, POWs

Rolling Thunder is known for its patriotic "Ride for Freedom" to the nation's capital each year and an intense interest in veterans' affairs. Now the national motorcycle club has inspired some legislation, based on the organization's unwavering support for the "chair of honor" -- a simple but effective public reminder of some 83,000 troops still missing in action or held as prisoners of war.

Rolling Thunder is known for its patriotic “Ride for Freedom” to the nation’s capital each year and an intense interest in veterans’ affairs. Now the national motorcycle club has inspired some legislation, based on the organization’s unwavering support for the “chair of honor” — a simple but effective public reminder of some 83,000 troops still missing in action or held as prisoners of war.

Each chair bears the stark, familiar POW/MIA emblem and remains permanently unoccupied; currently, there are chairs of honor placed in 100 indoor and outdoor sites around the nation, including several major sports stadiums. But Rolling Thunder officers wanted to know: Why not one for the U.S. Capitol?

They made their case two years ago to Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, who introduced the “National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015,” which passed unanimously on the floor of the House last week. The bill has straightforward intent, providing that an appropriate chair of honor be placed on the Capitol grounds as a solemn, enduring reminder of those who did not make it home. A bipartisan companion bill in the Senate has also been introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and Elizabeth Warren, another Massachusetts Democrat.

“When we pass this chair every day, we will be reminded of our commitment to our POWs, our MIAs and their families that we have not forgotten them, we will never forget them, and we will not rest until they all come home,” Mr. Lynch said after the bill passed, heartily crediting Rolling Thunder in his own state and elsewhere for championing the idea and pushing for the legislation.

“Though our soldiers are not here, there is still a space for them,” notes Gus Dante, member of the Rolling Thunder, Inc. national board.

FEELING THE BERN ELSEWHERE

After big wins in Washington, Hawaii and Alaska in Saturday’s primaries, Sen. Bernard Sanders has a message for fervent followers: “When working people and young people, when people who have given up on the political process get involved, that’s how we win.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful can also relish his outsider appeal beyond our borders. Mr. Sanders has won the Global Presidential Primary — a survey of 34,570 U.S. citizens living in 170 countries, conducted by Democrats Abroad — an official arm of the Democratic Party. Mr. Sanders snagged 69 percent of the vote.

“This political revolution that is gaining momentum across America is now resonating all over the world,” he says.

VOTERS: 21 PERCENT SEEK A THIRD PARTY

Jittery voters are fixated on the presidential election, according to a new Fox News poll. Many also appear to be resigned to the front-runners: 67 percent overall would be “satisfied” voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump; 63 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats agree with this.

Some are not so satisfied: 21 percent overall would seriously consider a third-party candidate; 24 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree. This might be promising news for Gary Johnson, the likely Libertarian Party nominee.

Some voters appear either disgusted or disinterested: 9 percent don’t plan to cast a vote for president at all; 10 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats agree. Regardless of their party affiliation, 82 percent of voters feel “nervous about American politics today”; 84 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents and 80 percent of Democrats agree. Another 74 percent overall are “extremely” or “very” interested in the 2016 presidential election; 80 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of independents and 76 percent of Democrats agree.

ADIOS, CUBA?

“Will President Obama’s visit improve Cuba’s tourism industry?” asks Travel and Tour World, a trade publication. “A really important fact is that the presidential delegation included also dozens of American businessmen in search of opportunities on this island.”

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