America’s 911 Ride was such a good idea that it was resurrected the year after its organizers thought it had overstayed its time and decided to put it to rest.
Instead, they brought it back, only a bit scaled down, and now it’s coming back again full throttle and will pass through Cumberland sometime early the morning of Aug. 16.
We like to think that the reception they receive in Cumberland had something to do with the revival.
The 911 Riders have said for years that the reception they receive here is unmatched.
The cheering, applause and demonstrations of patriotism, and the crowds of people who line the streets to greet them, is an emotional highlight of their trip.
They say it convinces them the heart of America is as strong and vital as ever.
We’re not sure what time they’ll get here, but they are scheduled to leave Somerset, Pennsylvania, at 6:45 a.m. and that’s about an hour’s drive.
They will come into Cumberland through the Narrows and proceed at least part of the way down North Mechanic Street, a section of which is undergoing road construction.
The Cumberland Police Department was formulating which direction their route will take after entering the city, and we will let you know what it is as soon as we find out.
Updates of the riders’ progress will be available on radio and social media, and we’ll be able to hear the sound of their engines coming before they get here. It’s unforgettable.
Rather than pulling off at Rocky Gap State Park, the riders will make a restroom-and-water stop at Allegany College of Maryland, which graciously granted them the use of its parking lot. Parking at Rocky Gap has been cut in half temporarily because of a parking lot restoration project.
Since 2001, two months after the 911 attacks, motorcycles, riders, support vehicles and police, fire and emergency services units have gathered in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and come through Cumberland during August on their way to the Pentagon in Washington and Ground Zero in New York.
They do this to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and their victims.
The America’s 911 Foundation was formed in 2003 to raise funds for a scholarship program dedicated to the children of EMS personnel, firefighters and police officers and to help emergency services organizations with funds, materials, equipment and volunteers.
Some riders were survivors of the terrorist attacks. They were in one of the World Trade Center buildings when they were rammed by hijacked airliners. We talked to them and heard their stories.
The ride began at Shanksville because that’s where Flight 93 plunged into the Pennsylvania countryside after crew members and passengers said “Let’s roll!”
They fought back against the hijackers who wanted to crash it into the White House in Washington as other terrorists crashed jetliners into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
The Flight 93 National Memorial at Shanksville features a wall of names and a visitor’s center that has many things to see and hear.
What we remember from a recent visit to the memorial was a wall that displayed the photographs and names of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 — good-sized photos of smiling, happy people ... some of them young and full of life, no doubt looking forward to many more years that were not to be.
If you ever feel the need for a sobering experience, go to the Flight 93 memorial and spend some time looking at those pictures.
These people weren’t soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines, but they still collectively died while fighting for America.
It had been decided that 2016 would be the last year for the 911 Ride.
The riders were getting older and hotel rooms in New York were getting more expensive, and the authorities in some places weren’t as willing to accommodate a convoy of several hundred vehicles as they are in Maryland.
However, some of them remembered why they did it and decided to keep it going.
Let’s turn out like we always do, to wave, cheer and thank them for what they’re doing and demonstrate that we love them just as much as they say they love us.
On the concert stage, this would be “a curtain call” to shouts of “Encore! Encore!” The show was supposed to be over, but neither the players nor the audience wanted it to end.