Motorcycle riders honor Flight 93

Website promotes rides to honor the passengers and crew as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is marked

BY JOHN PAPE | SHANKSVILLE, PA | September 9, 2011

The Wall of Names at the National Park for Flight 93 is depicted in this rendering.
Credit: NPS/bioLINIA and Paul Murdoch Architects

With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks just days away, a unique tribute is taking place to honor those who perished aboard United Flight 93 when it crashed near Shanksville, Penn. after passengers fought back against hijackers.

“Ride of Valor” is a first-ever effort to honor the 40 Heroes of Flight 93 through a series of community-based motorcycle rides across the nation. The rides will also help raise funds to complete and then maintain the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.

Those who do not ride motorcycles can take part in the effort by registering online as a “spirit rider.”

Deborah Borza is one of the organizers of the Ride of Valor. She is the mother of the youngest Flight 93 passenger, 20-year-old Deora Bodley.

Borza said the effort will give everyone an opportunity to honor the heroism of the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93, whose actions to regain control of the hijacked airplane stopped a planned attack by terrorists on Washington, D.C. The most likely target was the United States Capitol.

“Their lives made a difference; we want to focus on their heroism,” Borza said.

She said the idea to establish a motorcycle ride as a tribute came from the large number of motorcycle riders who have annually visited the temporary memorial near Shanksville. From there, the concept grew initially into an event to honor one of the Flight 93 passengers and, later, to a national fundraising tribute.

“The Ride of Valor started out as an event with another (Flight 93) family member who lost a brother. We wanted to provide a ride to remember his brother,” Borza said. “It then grew into motorcycle clubs all across the nation holding rides to honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93. Motorcyclists are always visiting; every day there are groups of them at the memorial.”

While most of the rides are set to closely coordinate with the 10th anniversary of the attacks, some have already taken place while others are planned for later in the year.

Motorcycle clubs, organizations, retail shops or any business are all among the hosts for Ride of Valor events in their community or area. Ride of Valor’s coordination team supplies the materials and support required to host a ride.

“It’s truly easy, and we’re there to help every step of the way,” Borza said.

The effort includes several types of rides and ways to pay tribute to the Flight 93 heroes. They include:

Valor and Honor Ride: A Valor and Honor Ride will feature 40 riders, called valor bearers, wearing “Vests of Valor.” Each vest displays the name an image of one of the Flight 93 passengers. Additional riders will display the official Flight 93 commemorative flag.

Honor Ride: In an Honor Ride, riders all display Flight 93 flags.

Remembrance Ride: In a Remembrance Ride, cyclists simply ride as a tribute to the Flight 93 heroes.

Spirit Ride: Those who do not ride motorcycles can register to ride “in spirit” as a tribute to Flight 93.

Borza stressed all funds raised will go directly to completing and preserving the Flight 93 National Memorial, which will be formally dedicated over the weekend of Sept. 10-11.

“There are a lot of things at the memorial that need support, and all the money raised will go to the memorial,” Borza said.

Borza said the permanent memorial, which will be administered by the National Park Service, will be “all about preserving the history” of Flight 93.

“The American people will be getting a new park to honor the heroes of Flight 93 and the sacrifice they made for this nation. We’ll never have to wonder what would have happened if those passengers hadn’t chosen to take the action they took that day,” Borza said.

She also called the approaching 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks “bittersweet.”

“I’m really filled with a lot of emotions and the desire to keep alive all that my daughter stood for and all of those lives who were touched by Deora and all those who were on Flight 93 with her,” Borza said.

A junior at Santa Clara University, in San Diego, Calif., Deora Bodley was returning home from a visit with friends in New Jersey and Connecticut. She was the youngest passenger on Flight 93.

Deora is Gallic for “tears.”

Pennsylvania resident Mitch Wagner took part in one of the rides held earlier this summer, carrying a Flight 93 commemorative flag. He called the experience “an honor.”

“I’m not a real sentimental guy, but this brought tears to my eyes. Think about it; these people took on those hijackers knowing they might well die, but they did it anyway,” Wagner said. “There’s just not enough we can do to honor what they did; it’s absolutely humbling. It swells the heart.”

Virginia resident Eric Scott said he was looking forward to his club’s upcoming ride. Like Wagner, he said it was his honor to pay tribute to the Flight 93 heroes.

“They’re heroes; plain and simple. They sacrificed their lives for a greater good; we can never pay enough tribute to them,” Scott said. “I think the best honor we can pay them is keeping their names alive and helping build this memorial.”

The Flight 93 National Memorial consists of 1100 acres located at the crash site. It is under the stewardship of the U.S. National Park System.

The memorial was designed to be a place for people to reflect and connect to the story of Flight 93, as well as to learn about both the people and their actions. It is “the place dedicated to the memory of the 40 heroes of Flight 93 as well as a place for the healing and understanding of the wounds inflicted by Flight 93,” according to the National Park Service.

The memorial includes 5 major features the Entry Portal, the Western Overlook, visitor and education centers, the Tower of Voices and 40 Memorial Groves.

Set along the final trajectory of Flight 93, the Entry Portal will take visitors along the path of the airliner as it careened toward a stand of hemlock trees. After passing through twin walls framing the sky, visitors will be standing at an overlook with a sweeping view of the Field of Honor.

As the final resting place of the passengers and crew members, the Sacred Ground is the heart of the Flight 93 National Memorial. A stone and slate plaza will offer a closer-than-ever viewing position of the meadow and hemlock grove which absorbed much of the impact of the crash.

The Western Overlook is a large area just below the Entry Portal that overlooks the western edge of the impact site of Flight 93 and provides a key vantage point to view the memorial site.

The 40 Memorial Groves are 40 groves of 40 trees, for a total of 1600 trees. The trees are intended to memorialize the 40 heroes of Flight 93.

Tall enough to be seen from the nearby highway, the Tower of Voices will mark the entry to and exit from the park. Reaching 93 feet into the sky, the tower will house 40 aluminum wind chimes. The continuous sound of chimes in the wind is intended be an audible reminder of the acts of courage of the flight’s passengers and crew members.

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Related Links:

Ride of Valor Website

Flight 93 Memorial Park


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