9/11 Ride – A Personal View
3:30 am in the mountains just outside Christiansburg, Va, a rumble breaks the early morning silence. A single motorcycle carefully makes it’s way down the long winding roads towards “civilization” to meet up with others along the way who have also decided to make this journey. We ride out not exactly knowing what to expect once we get there, but sure in our hearts that it is something we MUST do. We come from all walks of life, all religions, all political sides, yet United – not just by the bikes we ride, but by the need to stand up for those who have risked all, those we have lost, and those who were left behind. We are not just “Bikers”…we are Americans.
What I write here is from my own personal view of the events leading up to this ride for Me. There are an infinite number of people around the globe who can tell you exactly what they were doing that day, where they were, and how they felt…This is my story.
September 11, 2001 – Manteo, North Carolina: I am 8 1/2 months pregnant with my daughter and had just come home from a part time job at the Dare County Library. As I walk in the door, the television is on and the news is reporting a large explosion at the World Trade Center. What seemed like a simple news story quickly turned into an event that would change this country and its people forever. I felt incredible heartbreak, sadness, fear, and anger all at once. I thought back to when I was a kid growing up several blocks from the area, seeing these two enormous buildings which seemed to reach the heavens…they are now gone. I thought back to walking down the streets of Manhattan surrounded by, what seemed to a child, like millions of people, surrounded by noise and activity…and now the city is silent. I thought about my hometown for the first 10 years or so of my life and how all of a sudden, in almost the blink of an eye, it has all been changed Forever. The loss of life in this single event was horrendous and my heart broke for each person from the ones who simply tried to get to their job that day, to the many many brave heroes who so desperately tried to help. This was a tragedy of epic proportions to say the very least.
On that one single day, the entire world seemed to stop and grieve.
Over the following days, I thought of my daughter who was yet to be born and I worried about the kind of world I would be bringing her up in…
I watched my kids as they learned for the first time in their lives, not only what evil can be done..but what we, as people are capable of during times of crisis. They saw an entire world come together to help, pray, support one another. They saw, in One Single Event, not only the worst of people but the BEST.
I saw my two older boys change as well. My oldest son, age 13, who had already wanted to join the local Fire Department as a junior member, became empassioned to make it a lifelong career and he excelled at it..his heart aching for the 343 NYFD brothers that lost their lives. He also worried about his uncle who worked on Wall St. at the time, and from whom we had heard nothing (thankfully he was safe). I saw my youngest son who was 8 at the time, turn from wanting to be either a stunt double for Stone Cold Steve Austin or a pro football star to wanting to become an American Soldier…he wanted to fight the bad guys who did this. I watched, as we all did, as the history of our country was changed…how it impacted every person in the world.
We were ALL changed that day.
Over the years since, I have become not only the mother of a firefighter/police officer but the mother of a soldier. I have watched my sons take on professions which put their lives at risk every day while they are trying to help others. My oldest son has never forgotten that day. When he turned 18 five years later, he also chose as his first tattoo to honor the 343 fallen firefighters and 9/11. My youngest son, while in his senior year of high school, decided to join the US Army. This brought new worry into my world because I am well aware of our country’s lack of respect for those that defend it…My opinion on that issue follows:
-Our Armed Forces-
I firmly believe we owe an overwhelming debt to our soldiers…past, present, and future. These men and women have sworn their lives to protect and defend US – the American People. Not once before during or after my son decided to enlist, was his decision based on democrat/republican/etc opinion! Not once was his decision based on Catholic, Baptist,etc religious opinion! This kid simply wanted to do what he felt was the right thing to do…Help Defend His Country.
I think the way we treat our veterans is at the very least appalling. They have given their ALL in service to this country, and should be treated with the utmost respect in return. They should NOT have to fight again for jobs, medical care, benefits, etc once they are finally home.
Our soldiers DID NOT create the wars in which they have fought, they don’t have that power. Our government does and unfortunately it is our soldiers who pay the ultimate price.. I could go on and on with facts and figures to support my argument, or rant and rave from an “army mom” point of view, but that is not what this story is about.
Fast Forward- Twelve Years Later- 9/10/21013
I have been sitting as I do around every anniversary of 9/11 thinking about what happened, and how it has affected the world. I have also kept an eye always on things that go on in this country even though I may not speak on very much of it. I have watched our government basically try to take away our rights and destroy the Constitution; watched as our president tries to force not only his healthcare but also his religion down our throats; watched as an American ambassador and others were left to die because our president didn’t want to get involved YET has the audacity to bring us to the brink of a 3rd world war over what Syria does to their OWN people. I watch how many soldiers each day never make it home because they are over in another country defending the decisions of our government. I watch as the deployment orders come in for soldiers here, including my own son, and I ache.
I am filled with an overwhelming desire to DO something…I feel the overwhelming desire to STAND UP and say this is enough!
I cannot fill those soldiers boots, I cannot bring the fallen back home, I cannot change the past… but I Damn Well can speak up for our future.
This was not a “religious” thing, not a “democrat/republic” thing, hell not even a “biker” thing….To Me, This was about being an American and standing up.
I was asked by someone at the staging area while waiting to ride into DC “Why are you here today?” and this is what I said
“To Respect, Honor, and Remember…Those that risk their life (meaning soldiers, first responders, etc), Those that have lost their lives, and Those that have yet to come home (POW/MIA, etc)”.. I represented my son in the Army, and my childhood hometown- Manhattan NYC and NYFD/Rescue 1
~And So We Rode as part of 2 Million Bikers To DC~
Written By Donna M. Williams