(CBS NEWSPATH) — Wearing his Dress Blues, retired U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers walked to a concrete median at high noon Sunday and issued a 22-minute salute.
Chambers, 45, of San Diego, California, would remain on that median — located at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street in Northwest D.C. — for the next 24 hours.
In 2002, Chambers, then in his early 20s, began saluting motorcyclists during Rolling Thunder. He hasn’t missed a year since, in turn, becoming an institution of sorts.
In fact, in 2016, Tim and Lorraine married on the National Mall surrounded by a crowd of family, friends, and spectators.
In previous years, Chambers would hold a salute for between three and five hours as hundreds of thousands of motorcycles drove by. The exact amount of time varied by the annual attendance numbers.
To highlight the prevalence of veteran suicide, Chambers settled on a 24-hour demonstration. At the beginning of the first hour, he held a salute for 22 minutes to symbolize the 22 American veterans who take their life every day, on average. The salute drops by one minute each hour, ultimately working its way down to zero.
The nonprofit organization pays for medical bills left uncovered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, among other things.
Rolling Thunder — which now goes by the name Rolling To Remember — was canceled this year because of COVID-19. However, more than 100 motorcycle riders pulled onto the grass early Sunday afternoon to watch Chambers.
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Chris Best is the News Director for WKRG. He’s a husband and father of four. He’s also a motorcycle enthusiast.
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