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Annual 911 Memorial Coalition a Stirring Tribute
September 6, 2013
A longer route and a course that takes them back into portions of the city of Williamsport are among the changes to this year’s 12th Annual 9-11 Memorial Coalition Motorcycle Ride that takes place next week on the 12th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
"We are very glad to be able to return the Memorial Ride to part of the city of Williamsport and as a result extending the mileage of the Ride from 27 to 42 miles," "Tank" Baird, president of the 9-11 Memorial Coalition told Webb Weekly. "A lot of people were disappointed when we were not able to really go through Williamsport last year, but we have met with Mayor Campana and other city officials and were able to coordinate things so that we were again able to proceed through the city. We have been able to restore the city part of the Ride in large part to public response and pressure on local officials."
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.
Activities for the ride begin at 2 p.m. at the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Company, where numerous vendors will be on hand as well as some musical entertainment. At 5:30 p.m. there will be a Memorial Service commemorating and honoring the victims of the September 11 attacks, in which several members of the clergy and others will make appropriate remarks.
The Memorial Ride will then begin at about 6 p.m. and all those who wish can come back and welcome the riders back and can enjoy food and entertainment.
"This Memorial Ride has a dual quality to it. On the one hand it is a solemn commemoration of the victims of one of the darkest days in American history and the sacrifice they made, but on the other hand it is a celebration of patriotism and the freedoms that we enjoy in this great country," Gary Smith, vice president of the 9-11 Memorial Coalition said. "We also celebrate and honor the important role that our First Responders play in our safety and well being. There were many of them who lost their lives on that awful day and we want to respectfully remember them as well."
According to Todd Winder, chief of the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Department, whose company hosts most of the events connected to the Memorial Ride, "One of the most moving things about the Ride are the cards with the pictures of individual soldiers killed in the War on Terrorism that Father John Manno, an active participant in the Ride from its inception, has blessed and are carried by riders participating in the Memorial Ride.
He said the cards are made and donated by Labels by Pulizzi and officials at Pulizzi said those cards are made with "great loving care and reverence."
"It is also a great way to honor the memory of all of these great soldiers who have given their lives to protect us from the scourge of terrorism."
He said it is a very moving thing to see the interaction between the spectators along the Ride route and the cyclists who ride the route.
"This is such a wonderful and moving event to be involved with," Winder said. "It puts a chill down your spine and puts a tear in your eye when you see such a moving display of remembrance and patriotism, hearing the church bells toll and seeing veterans in wheelchairs trying to stand and salute as you pass along the route and even a few of the Amish stand in respectful silence."
Smith said many of the churches along the Ride route make a special effort to ring the bells of their churches or have members of their bell choirs out front ringing their bells in tribute as the cyclists pass by.
Organizers of the Ride are quick to praise the efforts of Mark Lusk and the Lycoming County Sheriff’s Office in helping with the ride and its safety, as well as the Lycoming Count Visitors Bureau and the Lycoming County Commissioners in their efforts to promote the Memorial Ride.
Baird said the 9-11 Coalition Memorial Motorcycle Ride is the oldest and longest routed 9-11 Memorial Ride in the country.
The ride began humbly the Saturday after the September 11 attacks with just 85 cyclists, last year’s Ride had 4,237 riders with organizers hoping for more than 5,000 this year.
"We ask that riders wishing to participate, try and pre-register for the ride, so that they can sign the release form contained within it," Baird said. "But you can still participate even if you don’t. You can pre-register by accessing our website at: www.911MemorialCoalition.org and you can have any questions you might have about the ride answered by the website."