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Anyone who has spent Memorial Day weekend in the nation's capital knows well the sights, smells, and especially the sounds that are a part of Rolling Thunder.

The massive parade of motorcycles that draws nearly a million participants annually from all over the country had humble roots.

The New York Post reports:

This is Rolling Thunder, a demonstration in Washington, DC, that began the Sunday before Memorial Day in 1987 when two Vietnam War veterans — Artie Muller and Ray Manzo — desperately wanted to highlight the prisoners of that war and those still listed as missing in action.

They came up with the crazy idea that a little motorcycle march on Washington might just get their cause some attention.

That first year, 2,500 riders descended on Washington, D.C. Thirty years later, that number is fast approaching a million — but it's not just the riders who have become a Memorial Day tradition.

Every year since 2002, one Marine — retired Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers — has faced the roar of the Rolling Thunder alone, standing at attention and offering a salute as the motorcyclists ride by.

David S. Holloway/Getty Images

The noise and chaos swirl around him, but he does not move. He remains steadfast in his salute until the last rider has passed.

For 15 years, he's held that salute for hours — through bad weather and good — and despite an uncasted broken wrist in 2011.

Even his own wedding in 2016 didn't stop him from standing his post. In fact, his new wife — still in her wedding gown — took a post beside him:

AFP/Getty Images

Chambers, known by the riders simply as “The Lone Marine,” says his mission is simple: “I try to catch their eyes and give them that 'welcome home' they never got.”

Watch more of his story here: