As the thousands upon thousands of motorcycles continue to thunder away from the John F. Kennedy Stadium parking lot during the annual Rolling To Remember brigade, you may notice one person who stands still with his hand up to his forehead and his Dress Blues on for the hours that the motorcycles continue to roll on out of the lot.
Often compared to the likes of the Guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers stands and salutes during the entire demonstration as these motorcycles drive by to raise awareness for the more than 82,000 POWs and MIAs, as well as the 22 daily veteran suicides.
Chambers, better known as The Saluting Marine, has been saluting the pre-Memorial Day event in Washington, DC, since the year after the 9/11 attacks back in 2001. Rolling Thunder was the remembrance event that took place in DC up until 2019, when Rolling To Remember took over, but all the same.
“As AMVETS began planning Rolling to Remember, we knew we immediately had to reach out to the Saluting Marine and ask him to continue his salute each Memorial Day weekend,” National Commander Greg Heun said. “Much like Rolling Thunder, we understood the traditions associated with the ride had to continue, and the Saluting Marine’s presence at the ride was no different. We are proud to have Tim Chambers as a member of the AMVETS family.”
When Chambers first started saluting back in 2002, he would not have ever imagined it taking off the way it did. Now, it has become a staple of the event every single year, and people love seeing The Saluting Marine in his natural habitat.
“I never knew my salute would mean so much to so many,” Chambers said on his The Saluting Marine website. “I learn more every day on how it has impacted people. This is bigger than just Veterans; it is a symbol for society that demonstrates compassion and respect. I hope to continue to motivate, show some empathy and compassion and make a difference.”
There is no question that the presence of Chambers being there to salute the brigade as it drives by makes a special occasion infinitely more special. It is a sign of solidarity and respect amongst many Americans, and each year seems the event grows more and more, as does the respect for this retired Marine.
So, why does Chambers do what he does?
He will tell you there is not one specific reason, but a bunch of reasons put together, such as getting the opportunity to thank both veterans and citizens alike. He explains how The Saluting Marine came about and much more in a 2019 AMVETS podcast with Miles Migliara, but one thing that can be said is that it all stems from the aftermath of 9/11, and it is a tradition he hopes to keep up for years to come.
Chambers is much more than just The Saluting Marine the weekend before Memorial Day, though. He has a servant’s heart and loves to volunteer, and he has launched many great initiatives. When he was enlisted in the Marines, the Corps volunteered them for the Special Olympics, and his life has been all about volunteering ever since then.
“Tim’s energy is infectious,” AMVETS National Riders President John Reando said. “His commitment to serving veterans, alive or no longer with us, is on display 24/7, and often steers situations and conversations to how we, as an American public, can continue to do better by American veterans and their families.”
Chambers is making a difference more than just one salute at a time, but with every interaction he has with people. He has a love for this country and a heart for veterans, and he is an advocate for never letting a service member be forgotten.
The world could use more people like The Saluting Marine himself, as Chambers is truly making this world a better place. He is appreciated by his family and friends, his fellow service members (both past and present) and everyone in between.
Thank you for your service and thank you for your valiant efforts in all that you do, Tim Chambers. You are truly one-of-a-kind.