Local American Legion bikers gear up for annual 9/11 Memorial Ride

RaeLynn Ricarte

It has been 19 years since terrorist attacks on the East Coast by Islamic extremists killed nearly 3,000 Americans — and three area veterans groups are providing a way for people to pay their respects.

The annual 9/11 Memorial Ride is being hosted this year by American Legion Post 9 in Spokane, in partnership with Post 47 in Colville and Post 54 in Chewelah.

“It is important to remember the emergency responders who answered the call on that tragic day, as well as the sacrifices made by military families afterward,” said John Horton, an Army veteran and event organizer from Post 47.

About 90 American Legion Riders and other bikers will gather at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, in the parking lot of Super 1 Foods in Colville, said Tracy Brechbiel, an Air Force veteran who is president of the Legion Riders group in Colville.

“There is a saying that, '’Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it,’ so we need to never forget,” he said.

Bikers will take off from Super 1 at 9:11 a.m. and travel east to Main Street where they invite people to pay their respects to the fallen by bringing flags to wave as they pass. The entourage turns onto Hawthorne Street and then rides east to Silke Road and north to Highway 20. There is a scheduled stop at Beaver Lodge for a short ceremony and refreshments before the group journeys to Cusick and then turns right onto West Calispel Road and then Flowery Trail Road into Chewelah.

A lunch prepared by Post 54 will be waiting for the travelers, who can then ride with Post 9 back to Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson in Spokane, which is the end of the line.

The memorial ride takes place each year on the Saturday closest to 9/11 so more people can participate. Those who want to join the ride can show up and enjoy donated donuts and coffee before the group takes off, said Horton. However, if they wish to contribute $25 to Tuesday's Children to help the families of 9/11 victims, they can receive a T-shirt to commemorate the ride. All proceeds go to the charitable organization.

To pre-register, contact Ron Shoonover at schoondog@gmail.com.

This year, the ride guards, who block off intersections so the group can travel safely through intersections will be displaying a new flag.

Brechbiel said the flags for the six guards denote the importance of remembering the single deadliest terrorist attack in history and the single deadliest incident for firefighter and law enforcement in the history of the United States.

On Sept. 11, 2001, 343 firefighters were killed trying to save lives at the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan, New York, and 72 law enforcement officials fell.
The U.S. and its allies went to war in the Middle East following the attacks, and there have been 2,372 troop deaths in Afghanistan and about 1,600 civilian contractors have been killed .Another 20,320 troops have been wounded.

In Iraq, the U.S. has lost 4,424 troops and 31,952 have been wounded. Active duty troops remain in both countries.