Even though it has been 22 years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the organizers of the annual 9/11 Memorial Motorcycle Ride continue to honor and remember the sacrifice and courage of those who were lost on that awful day with their tribute memorial event — the “Remember, Honor, Ride” 9/11 Motorcycle Ride. The 42-mile event takes place again on Monday, September 11.
The route will remain the same as it has been for many of those years. “Our parade will take thousands of motorcycles through Williamsport and surrounding communities and, in effect, through small-town America,” 9/11 Coalition Vice President Gary Smith told Webb Weekly. “One of the secrets to the tremendous curbside support that we have seen over the years is being on that familiar route,” he added.
With the motto “Never Forget,” the ride is a rolling memorial to those who lost their lives that terrible day and to the fallen in the war on terror. “We also take the opportunity to honor the first responders and veterans in our communities,” said Tank Baird, President of the Coalition. “These brave men and women have committed their lives to keeping us safe and should be recognized for the sacrifices they have made.”
The first motorcycle ride was held just four days after the attack. It was an angry and emotional protest of the events of 9/11/2001, but by the first anniversary, it had evolved into the memorial that takes place today.
Baird said he is “amazed” by the support and interest that the public has shown in the event over the years. He noted that even last year, when the event was marred by rain, people stood out in the rain in great numbers to watch and support the annual Memorial Ride. He noted that people of all ages and walks of life were along the Ride route.
County Sheriff Mark Lusk and the Lycoming County Sheriff’s Department will escort the ride with many fire and police units providing traffic control along the entire 42-mile route. The crowds on the streets and country lanes have been estimated at 20,000 people, with many showing their support by waving American flags and holding signs. “It’s an emotional experience. You sometimes think that patriotism is not what it used to be, but this ride can restore some of your faith in America and its people. It’s very emotional,” Chief Todd Winder of The Clinton Township Fire Department said.
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 Breslford, 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.”
This year’s ride begins as it has for the past few years, at the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Company, along Route 54, just outside of Montgomery. It proceeds to Route 15, goes north over Montgomery Pike into South Williamsport, turning onto West Southern Avenue to Euclid Avenue in DuBoistown, and then crosses the Abram Howard Memorial Bridge (the former Arch Street Bridge), 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 Hughesville, turning onto Route 405 in Hughesville and continuing through Muncy and Montgomery, turning right onto Route 54 and ending up back at the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Company.
The 9/11 Memorial Ride starts and ends at the Clinton Township Fire Station on Route 54 Montgomery. Gates open at 10:00 a.m. There will be vendors and food available. A ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ with Rev. Bill Stankiewicz is at 3:00 p.m. The memorial service begins at 5:00 p.m. with guest speaker Major General John Gronski, United States Army Retired with 40 years of service. The ride begins promptly at 6:00 p.m.
Riders and non-riders are invited to the fire company grounds for the memorial service and all activities. Car parking will be available on-site or show support at any number of places along the parade route. The ride map and information are on Facebook or their website at 911memorialcoalition.org. Phone calls are at 570-244-6153. The ride is free, but donations are appreciated. After the ride, there will be musical entertainment and fellowship with music provided by Pepper Street.