Biker Gang Honors 9/11 Victims in Coolest Way

motorcyclists 9/11All this week, Americans will be remembering, reflecting on, and honoring the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks in a variety of different ways. This tribute by a group of bikers in Chicago is one of the memorials that stands out the most.

Chicago firefighter Tom Maloney has organized a memorial motorcycle ride from the Windy City to Manhattan every year on the anniversary of the attacks. Nearly 100 bikers joined him Tuesday morning when he set off at 9:11 a.m. for Shanksville, Pennsylvania (where hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed) and then the Pentagon, before finishing their journey in Ground Zero. Maloney made the maiden voyage 10 years ago when he raced cross country to New York to help after the attacks; now he calls this yearly tradition of reflecting on the road "therapy" ...

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Here Maloney reflects on why he (along with other members of his group) have come to rely on the ride:

Going back to Ground Zero feels like a second home. The guys I know there, the bartenders. The memories ... I’ve seen this place change year after year from when it was burning rubble down in the ‘bathtub’ as they called it to being built back up. I can see everything back to normal. Everything is in the past. It’s hard to believe those two to three inches of dust everywhere is gone and it’s all clean now. Boats and yachts in the harbor. Dogs playing in doggie parks. Freedom Tower climbing and climbing. It’s almost historic watching it.

People mourn tragedy in different ways, and for many of these bikers, the ride has been a necessary part of the healing process because they see more progress and growth in the area every time they return. Interestingly enough, however, Maloney says this will be the last year he'll embark on the journey. He explained it this way:

... I think that it has to end. Life goes on. After 10 years, people don’t remember. The idea of having people never forget, it’s out of my hands.

In a way, Maloney has made his peace with the tragedy. And he makes a good point that remembering and moving on from September 11 is very personal and unique to each of us.

 

Image via whiskymac/Flickr

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