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20th Anniversary 9-11 Memorial Coalition Motorcycle Ride This Saturday

This Saturday is the 20th anniversary of a grim day in American history — the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, that claimed 3,000 lives. As they have every year since this horrific event took place, the 9-11 Memorial Coalition Motorcycle Ride will honor and remember the victims in a 37-mile motorcycle journey that seems

This Saturday is the 20th anniversary of a grim day in American history — the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, that claimed 3,000 lives. As they have every year since this horrific event took place, the 9-11 Memorial Coalition Motorcycle Ride will honor and remember the victims in a 37-mile motorcycle journey that seems to get larger and larger each year. The slogan for the memorial is “Remember, Honor, Ride.”

This year’s ride has had to overcome some obstacles to proceed. Last year because of bureaucratic roadblocks put up by PennDOT, the ride was not able to proceed officially. PennDOT required ride organizers to get waivers from all the 14 political subdivisions that the ride went through. When the daunting task could not be completed, a spontaneous, unofficial ride took place. But of course, it was not the same.

The 9-11 Memorial Ride Coalition worked very hard to ensure that the ride could return to a normal, formally sanctioned event this year.

According to Tom “Tank” Baird, one of the ride’s organizers, another member of the coalition, Gary Smith, contacted State Representative Joe Hamm, who represents a good part of the area covered by the ride, to see if the state could persuade PennDOT to modify or waive its requirements for the ride. PennDOT resisted, so Rep. Hamm stepped in and sponsored legislation to compel them to alter its regulations.

Hamm worked on both sides of the political aisle to get this piece of legislation passed. Perhaps miraculously, he received unanimous support for the bill’s passage in these contentious times, which was later signed into law by Governor Wolf.

“Without Joe Hamm’s efforts, it is hard to see how the ride would have been able to proceed normally this year,” Baird told Webb Weekly. “We are very grateful for his efforts and grateful for the work Gary Smith did to get Rep. Hamm involved.”

According to Baird, everything is back to normal this year for the ride, which begins and ends at the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Company.

“The interest in this ride seems to grow,” Baird said. “We seem to get more and more bikers each year, and the number of people standing along the curbs along the route grows, as well. I think that many people who watch the ride regard it as a good way to show their patriotism. We see a lot of flags being waved along the route. The ride has become sort of a tradition. This is everyone’s event. It is for the spectators as well as for the riders.”

The ride participants, according to Baird, are moved and grateful for the overwhelming turnout of people viewing the ride and showing their support. In addition, he said several churches ring bells as the riders pass by, giving the event both a solemn and perhaps a celebratory quality. These churches choose to remember and show recognition and gratitude for what the ride is trying to demonstrate.

“We do this ride because we don’t want people to forget the sacrifices and the terrible toll of 9-11,” Baird said. “We believe the event is a great way to commemorate those who were lost and a way to channel our grief and anger about that loss. I think this year being the 20th anniversary, the interest in the ride should be bigger and better than ever.”

Baird said a new generation is becoming interested in carrying on with the ride as some of the original organizers are beginning to age and slow down some.

“We are starting to see a lot of younger people in their 20s and 30s coming up and becoming active, including my daughter, Nisha Brelsford, who is a member of the coalition and is in charge of merchandising and the Coalition’s website. It’s almost like we’re passing the baton to the next generation, which is important for the continuation of this ride.”

Ride activities begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 11, when the doors open at the Clinton Township Fire Hall. A memorial service at 2 p.m. features guest speaker Clyde Hoch, a former tank commander during the Vietnam War who founded an organization devoted to helping homeless veterans. The ride rolls at 3 p.m.

Generally, the ride starts at 6 p.m.; however, this year, because it is happening on a Saturday, which is usually a day of leisure for most, organizers thought it would be alright to move up the starting time to 3 p.m. Baird said that will enhance the ride’s safety, making it possible to complete it while still daylight.

To promote the ride, local PBS TV station WVIA will air the documentary “Remember, Honor, Ride” at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 9, at 8:30 p.m. Friday, September 10, and at noon Saturday, September 11.

“It is important to note that the success and safety of this ride are due in large part to the great cooperation and participation of this area’s first responders, such as fire and police and sheriff’s office personnel,” Baird said.

This year’s ride 37-mile begins as it has for the past several years, at the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Company, along Route 54, just outside Montgomery.

It proceeds north on Route 15 over Montgomery Pike into South Williamsport, turning onto West Southern Avenue to Euclid Avenue in DuBoistown; it crosses the Abram Howard Memorial Bridge (the former Arch Street Bridge), into Williamsport. It continues along Arch Street to West Third Street, along West Third and East Third Streets, through Williamsport, Loyalsock Township, and Montoursville and then along Lycoming Mall Drive, onto Route 220 North into Hughesvllle, turning onto Route 405 in Hughesville and continuing through Muncy and Montgomery, turning right onto Route 54 and ending at the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Company.

Vendors, food, refreshments, and after the ride, there will be musical entertainment. In addition, t-shirts, caps, and DVDs of the “Remember, Honor, Ride” documentary will be sold.

For further information, access the coalition’s website at https://www.911memorialcoalition.org.

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