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Sunday, May 25, 2008

President Bush inducted into biker group

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush donned a black leather biker jacket Sunday as he was given honorary membership in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle group which paraded through Washington to honor veterans on Memorial Day.

Tens of thousands of members of the biker group joined the parade down the US capital's main boulevards Sunday in the group's annual "Ride for Freedom" event to celebrate US soldiers and sailors and press for greater benefits for veterans.

Rolling Thunder leaders including National Executive Director Artie Muller met Bush at the White House, where they presented him with the vest in honor of their 21st Memorial Day ride.

Bush called the masses of motorcycles, which he observed from his helicopter just moments before, "a magnificent sight."

"We just choppered in, Artie, and saw your brothers and sisters cranking up their machines and driving through the nation's capital -- many of them have got the flag on the back," Bush told them.

"And I am just so honored to welcome you back. I want to thank you and all your comrades for being so patriotic and loving our country as much as you do," he said.

"And our troops appreciate you, the veterans appreciate you and your president appreciates you," Bush said.

The president also greeted some of his aides who joined in for the motorcycle ride, including Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and his top economic adviser, Edward Lazear, who showed up in a black bandanna and Harley-Davidson vest.