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Legion Riders take part in historic escort

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More than 20 local American Legion Post 2 Riders took part in an historic event recently.

On April 9, 25 area riders helped escort two 22-foot steel beams from the World Trade Center to Indianapolis.

The beams were transported to the state capitol as part of a memorial that will be constructed later this year.

"The best part of it was when we left and were coming back on Interstate-70, all the people," American Legion Riders Post 2 Director Dave Funk said. "What really got you was out in the middle of nowhere, where it was just fields, there were cars and trucks lined up against fences. They had to make an effort to get there.

"It was really nice to see that kind of support from every day people."

Funk said word spread on Facebook of the opportunity to help escort the beams to Indianapolis.

On Saturday, the motorcycle groups met in Richmond and made the jaunt to Indianapolis. Funk said more than 11,000 took part.

The memorial, Project 9/11 Indianapolis, was started by Greg Hess, a firefighter/paramedic in Indianapolis, who had a desire to establish a memorial dedicated to those killed during the collapse of the World Trade Center, and the crashes in Shanksville, Penn., and the Pentagon.

Hess was a member of Indiana Task Force 1 in 2001. The group was one of the first Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) Search and Rescue teams to arrive at Ground Zero. They spent eight days in New York assisting with rescue and recovery effort.

According to information at www.project911indianapolis.org, Hess contacted officials in 2010 with the hopes of obtaining two steels beams from World Trade Center for a memorial in Indianapolis. He received assistance from Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Indianapolis Fire Chief Brian Sanford, Indianapolis Police Chief Paul Ciesielski and Indiana Congressmen Mike Pence, Dan Burton and Andre Carson.

After receiving the OK for the beams, Hess flew to New York April 5, to bring them to Indianapolis. The beams had been stored in Hangar 18 at JFK Airport in New York, which houses all the artifacts recovered from Ground Zero.

The memorial will be constructed at 421 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis, along the White River Canal.

American Legion Post 2 Rider Ken Michael said the 25 met at the old American Legion Post on State Rode 59 before driving to Richmond.

He said when the beams arrived across the state line; the riders escorted them to Indianapolis.

"When we pulled out of (Richmond), the state police blocked off I-70 westbound," Michael said. "It took 45 minutes to get all the bikes out of the first parking lot.

"When we hit the interstate, every single overpass between Richmond and Indianapolis was lined with fire trucks, ambulances, just people standing. Both sides of the interstate were lined with flags. It was unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. Everybody with a bike in the state of Indiana showed up, I think."

Michael added he was proud to have taken part in the escort.

"It was great. It's a part of history," he said. "With the pouring down rain and cold, I still wouldn't have wanted to be in any other place."

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to take place in May and a dedication for the project is scheduled to take place Sept. 11, 2011.

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I was honored to be able to be a part of this ride also. It was amazing and so moving to see the beams and all the firemen and people along the overpasses and along the roads,how many many riders there was that took part in this. Yes, we got very wet and very cold but it was so worth it. A few chose to not do the ride because they didn't want to be cold and get wet and risk getting sick. I guess that's their right to choose but I for one am grateful that our military, fire departments and police departments don't have that attitude or this country would be screwed now wouldn't it. As for myself and the group I rode with, what an honor..I loved every second of it despite the weather.

-- Posted by Dyna1 on Fri, Apr 15, 2011, at 5:56 AM

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