ID=27879171FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA (WUSA9)--Fired up, from across Virginia and compelled to be here.

"Honor. Duty. Patriotism. There's a whole lot of people that gave a lot," said Don Withrow, who did two combat tours in Vietnam.

"Since then, this country has come and rallied around our veterans, oh, big time! And I'm proud to be a part of it," he said.

The Ride of the Patriots began in Fairfax 17 years ago, and today, it is 4,000 bikes strong.

To give you perspective on the magnitude of this ride, the first bikers reached the Pentagon before the final riders even left Fairfax.

"It's important to us because we really like to honor all the veterans in the past wars and the present wars," said Micki Lyons, a rider with the Fairfax Harley Owners group.

The Ride is embraced by the Fairfax community. Residents line the overpasses and the streets to show their support for this and the larger ride known as Rolling Thunder.

"My generation was the Vietnam generation and a lot of buddies that I had that went and didn't come back. College buddies, high school buddies. We try to remember them," said Ken Lyons, a member of the Fairfax Harley Owners group.

To the Pentagon and on to downtown Washington, where flag-waving spectators cheered. Memorial Day weekend pays tribute not just to our military but to first responders.

Added Withrow, "They are out there, both of them together, keeping us safe, keeping us free, guaranteeing our liberty. That's all we need to remember."

And this year, photojournalist Jeff Cridland and reporter Andrea McCarren had the privilege of going along for the ride.