By Amy Drummond, Fort Leavenworth LampSeptember 16, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Sept. 16, 2010) - Nearly 200 motorcyclists - including veterans, Soldiers, Patriot Guard Riders and other motorcycle groups - converged on the old U.S. Disciplinary Barracks to participate in the 9/11 Freedom Ride in honor of those who lost their lives on Sept.11, 2001, and to pay tribute to Soldiers who have lost their lives protecting the nation.
The ride, organized by Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Worth Harley-Davidson of Kansas City, Mo., and the Leavenworth Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 56, was part of day of remembrance.
At the gathering outside of the old USDB, motorcyclists observed a moment of silence in honor of the fallen then mounted up for the ride to the site of the future VFW Memorial Park on the corner of Sixth and Cherokee Streets in Leavenworth.
The group of riders was joined by an additional 100 bikers en route to the park.
Speakers at the event were Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Commander Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., Kansas City Attorney General Steve Six, Fort Leavenworth Garrison Commander Col. Wayne Green and Leavenworth County Commissioner J.C. Tellefson.
Caslen, who was at the Pentagon the day of the attack, told the story of a picture in his office a friend took of the Pentagon soon after the plane crashed. He described how in the picture, among the rubble and destruction, an American flag stood in a single beam of sunlight as the symbol of the country's hope, strength, solidarity and honor.
Caslen reminded all present to never forget and always admire the country's heroes' contributions to the nation's continued existence and freedom.
"The events of Sept. 11, 2001, will forever live in our memories," Caslen said. "We shall never forget the images of planes flying into the World Trade Center or the smoke rising from the Pentagon. We shall never forget the courage and compassion of the New York City firemen and other men and women racing into burning buildings to save the innocent or those heroes who died in a Pennsylvania field."
After the speeches, wreaths were laid at the foot of a flagpole to commemorate firefighters, law enforcement, and the active, reserve and National Guard military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty. A battlefield cross was presented to local residents Shirley and Bob Hemenway in honor of their son, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ronald Hemenway, who died in the Pentagon attack.
Following the VFW ceremony, motorcyclists continued their ride of solidarity and remembrance to Worth Harley-Davidson for a barbecue and live music.