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Third Annual 9/11 Memorial Ride

Written by  September 30, 2004

Today, as I prepared myself and my bike for the Third Annual 9/11 Memorial ride, many thoughts and emotions churned through my head. I began this morning by slowly applying a coat of wax on the Road King, hoping the sun would reflect against the metal flake paint, shining upward. I viewed each sparkle as a representative of all those we lost that day, on September 11, 2001. Altogether, there were 3,025 dead: the World Trade Center, 2,801; the Pentagon, 184; and in Pennsylvania 40; being the bloodiest day in American history since the Civil War. Next, I brought out a new American flag and attached it to the bike’s truck, representing our Nation’s resolve.

With the bike ready and the flag waving gently in the breeze, I called to my wife, Lisa, as it was time to spend the day with other riders. The day was perfect, clear and warm. As I approached Gail’s Harley-Davidson, I could see hundreds of bikes lining both sides of the street. I could tell that this year’s remembrance ride was going to be much larger than the last two.

After parking the King, Lisa and I walked around talking with old friends and meeting new ones. The atmosphere was one of respectfulness, with a mix between a motorcycle rally and a funeral wake. At times, it was a bit somber, although filled with open friendship and excitement. Gail was kind enough to provide a live band, free food and drink. In addition, the Ladies of Harley, American Heartland Chapter sponsored an on sight Red Cross blood drive, resulting in 20 units of blood being collected, which equates to saving 80 lives. Also, Gail teamed up with Yellow Transportation for 'Operation Yellow Ribbon,' collecting supplies for our troops serving overseas.

With all the selfless giving and camaraderie taking place around me, it caused me to reflect a bit more on the past tragedy and some of the words that were spoken by our Nation’s leadership. President Bush stated on that fateful day back in 2001: “Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America -- with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on September 11, 2002, 'While there's nothing one of us can do to bring back those loved ones, we can celebrate who they were, how they lived their lives and remember how their lives were lost, in a struggle dedicated to the eternal truth of freedom and the human spirit.'

This caring celebration and spirit that President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld spoke of was never more present than it is today. The ride had over 25 police escorts from Gail’s Harley-Davidson to The Other Place in Olathe, Kansas. Over 1,000 riders took part, with just about every motorcycle make being represented. It was a great salute to our fallen heroes! The ride was one I wish all riders could have participated in, or at least viewed from the side of the road! Along the route, cars pulled over and honked their horns in support, and many people came out of stores to wave at the riders as we rode past. The ride ended at The Other Place, where again, everyone spent time celebrating the remembrance of 9/11.

My personal thanks to all of you which took the time to salute our fallen heroes from September 11, 2001 and for those which are still fighting the war today.

Ride Free


Photos by Bart and Stripe