September 11, 2001, is a day that lingers in the hearts and minds of many Americans, especially those who were there for the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
Almost 3,000 people lost their lives during the attacks at the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines Flight 93. Many died in trying to help the injured during the terrorist attacks on our nation, and it’s a day to honor their lives, courage, and memories. It is a day of remembrance.
At 8:46 am ET, American Airlines Flight 11 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. At 9:03 a.m. ET, United Airlines Flight 175 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) hit the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. At 9:37 a.m. ET, American Airlines Flight 77 (traveling from Dulles, Virginia, to Los Angeles) hit the Pentagon Building in Washington. And at 10:03 am. ET, United Airlines Flight 93 (traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco) crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
This day is also a time to show that we will never forget the horrific events that occurred. It was one of the worst days in our American history, in which we saw some of the bravest acts. We learned that the unthinkable could happen and did! It was intended to break our spirit, but instead, we became more unified and stronger.
It showed us that life is so precious of a gift. The fathers, mothers brothers and sisters, the grief, the fire and ash, the last phone calls and the funerals of children. Every life has a purpose, and that we have a responsibility to those that we, Americans and the World NEVER forgets.
Twenty years have passed since a perfect blue sky morning turned into the blackest of nights. Since then, we have lived in sunshine and shadow, although we can never unsee what happened here. We can also see that children who lost their parents have grown into young adults, grandchildren have been born, and good works and public service have taken root to honor those we loved and lost. Please remember that on September 10, 20 years ago, 246 people went to sleep in preparation for their morning flights. 2,606 people went to sleep in preparation for work in the morning. 343 Firefighters went to sleep in preparation for their morning shift. 60 Police officers went to sleep in preparation for morning patrol.
None of them saw past 10:00am September 11, 2001. As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted! In just a single moment, life may never be the same.
The Salute American Veterans Rally Committee is proud to announce that the 2021 Veterans Rally and the POW / MIA Recognition Ride are returning to Teller County this August.
“The cancellation of last year’s rally was tough on us, both financially and emotionally,” said Ray McPeek, Rally Committee chairman. “We are excited about getting the Rally cranked up again, and we have nothing but praise for the City Council in Woodland Park for welcoming us into their community.
This year’s Rally will be a somewhat shorter, somewhat smaller version of what folks are used to seeing from Colorado’s largest annual motorcycle rally. “Due to logistical and economic issues on the heels of the worst year in recent memory, we have opted to run the Rally Friday afternoon and Saturday only,” said rally organizer and founder Jim Wear. “We have also eliminated a couple of features, including the Vietnam Memorial Wall, which we hope to have back next year.”
Wear and the Rally Committee are doing what they can to keep the Rally alive and hope to return to a full-scale three-day event in 2022. “Make no mistake, this year’s event will be an incredible tribute to our heroes, and folks will enjoy all the patriotism and camaraderie that they have come to expect from this event. “Wear said. “All of the usual fundraising activities in support of our local veterans will remain in place, including Red Friday, the silent auction, the POW/MIA Recognition Ride, and the collection during the mid-day remembrance ceremony. “Over the past 20 years, rally organizers have donated over $100,000 to local veterans in need and organizations which benefit veterans. “We prefer the homegrown efforts to the large corporate type charities. “Said McPeek, “Veterans 4 Veterans is one of our chosen beneficiaries as they help homeless veterans locally and are strictly a volunteer organization. “
Several important guests will join the Rally Saturday for the Remembrance Ceremony, including Ed Beck, World War II Prisoner of War held by the Germans, who cut the wire and made his escape to freedom during an allied attack. And Bill Roche, a B-17 waist gunner who survived TWO B-17 crash landings and was held captive by the Russians for nearly 2 months.
Live music, vendors, the traditional beer garden, and aircraft flyovers also highlight this unique event, which has become the largest gathering of veterans annually west of the Mississippi.
“The venue, ‘Memorial Park,’ is really beautiful and is suited perfectly for the ceremony, which is the centerpiece of the whole Rally,” said Wear. “The view of Pikes Peak and the surrounding landscape from the park is spectacular, and for those veterans and patriots who come each year in support of our heroes and each other, we are confident that everyone will enjoy the new digs.”
The Combat Hero Bike Build group returns to the Veterans Rally for the fifth year, with another presentation of a custom-built machine given over to a combat-wounded veteran free of charge. “The Combat Hero Bike Build crew are a dedicated bunch and do some great work, said McPeek.” We are honored that they continue to tout the Salute to American Veterans as their favorite event and a favorite venue for doing their great work.”
For the 34th year running, the annual POW-MIA Recognition Ride will thunder through the Rockies on Colorado’s POW/MIA Memorial Highway to Cripple Creek. While there will be no rally activities in Cripple Creek, the tradition of riding Colorado’s only POW Memorial Highway will continue. Many riders are expected to return to Woodland Park for the Remembrance Ceremony at 12:30.
For those Rally-goers who arrive Friday, support the Troops and get your FREE “Red Friday” T-shirt in Memorial Park beginning at 1 pm. The “Red Friday” shirt giveaway has become a Rally tradition over the past 15 years.
For more information on the 29th annual Salute to American Veterans Rally and the 34th annual POW-MIA Recognition Ride, visit www.theveteransrally.org.
If you want to ever thank a veteran for their service in our biker community, you don’t have to look far. Today marks the 77th anniversary of D-Day and our history of fighting for freedom all over the world. For the month of June, Colorado Rider News will continue to feature stories of veterans, active military and their history as well as the organizations they ride with.
History of D-Day
In the United States, D-Day is celebrated in remembrance of the brave soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. These American and Allied soldiers, some of which were killed in action, fought to liberate northwestern Europe from Nazi occupation, and bring an end to WWII in Europe.
Over 160,000 soldiers and paratroopers participated in the liberation of Normandy and this day is often seen as one of the main reasons why the Allies won the Western Front. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by the end of the day, the troops gained a food-hold in Normandy. Thousands of soldiers lost their lives, but thousands more trekked across Europe to end the war. The invasion is one of history’s most significant military attacks.
Native American’s Participation in D-Day
175 Native soldiers landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day; to date, the Department of Defense has identified 55. 44,000 Native Americans served throughout the U.S. military between 1941 and 1945. Nearly 800 Native American women served as well, Native women served as members of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), WACS (Women Army Corps), and Army Nurse Corps.
The 44,000 Native American men who served represent more than ten percent of the American Indian population at that time. A third of Native men between the ages of 18 and 50 served. Some tribes had as high as 70 percent participation in the war effort.
After the successful use of the Choctaw language (to befuddle the Germans) in World War I in sending messages to field phones, the U.S. Marine Corps began recruiting Navajo Indians for the same purpose. They would become known as the Navajo Code Talkers. Their code allowed for faster transmitting and deciphering, and it was a code the Japanese were never able to break.
A U.S. Army medic from Indian Island, Maine, Private Shay was attached to one of the first regiments to land on Omaha Beach, the most heavily defended sector of the coast. Shay began treating the wounded as soon as he got his footing, dragging wounded soldiers out of the surf under constant fire. After the war, the U.S. Army awarded Shay a Silver Star for his actions, and the French government appointed him a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, the highest honor given to noncitizens of France.
The people of Normandy dedicated the Charles Shay Memorial. The first French monument to honor American Indian soldiers who fought on D-Day, it is part of a growing movement to acknowledge Native Americans’ contributions during World War II. To Shay, the simple stone turtle that stands as the park’s monument represents all the “Indian soldiers who left Turtle Island to help liberate our allies.”
D-Day Customs & Traditions
In the United States, D-Day is an observance day – which means that it is not a federal holiday and federal holidays are not given this day off. It is also not a holiday that is given as a day off to workers in the private sector. However, many people do observe this holiday by visiting museums with D-Day displays. Also, there are often rides, memorials and ceremonies given all over the country on June 6.
If your bike trips and travel ever take you close to Washington, DC Bedford, Virginia is about 3 ½ hours south of DC. Be sure to stop at the National D-Day Memorial. This monument, which was dedicated in 2001, stands on an 88-acre memorial that features a 44-foot-tall granite arch, a reflecting pool, and English gardens. Encircling the monument are the names of over 4400 Allied soldiers who died during the invasion. It is one of the most complete lists of its kind that can be found anywhere in the world.
You can also virtually visit the memorial by going to www.dday.org
By Michele Tusi – East Coast
On January 3rd, 2021, Chris Pejko died in a tragic motorcycle accident. And just like that, the community lost a fellow biker, a nurse, an avid snowboarder … a person who would move heaven and earth to help a friend, ease a heartache, or give you a doom and gloom prognosis if you had a cough. Funny? Yeah, Chris was a funny dude with a quirky sense of humor and a laugh that was genuine.
Chris was a rock star. Literally. He kicked cancer’s ass TWICE, cruised all over the country on his Harley, slashed through fresh powder on more mountains than most can even name, and cared for the sickest of the sick as an ICU nurse working on the front lines against the pandemic and throughout his career. When people say, “live your life to the fullest”, Chris embodied that expression. Chris designed his life in a way that needed to be experienced in order to be fully lived. Experience it, he did, and he would have happily taken any of us with him on those adventures.
He loved his concerts – big and small, his Harley – I mean how many photos of his bike did we see on Facebook??, snowboarding – great adventures with ‘Team Retard’, his profession – a lifelong passion for helping others, his friends – and you know who you are and of course, his family – God Bless.
If you had the privilege to ride with Chris, you know he was an experienced rider, whose joy came from the RIDE – no matter where or with whom – he loved to ride! He could find a unique route to get just about anywhere, you never knew where you were going, but the roads were always smooth, and the scenery breathtaking. The girls would joke that Chris was the best ‘bike valet’ for he was quick to help you get parked, get moved, or get caught up! NO ONE LEFT BEHIND when you rode with Chris.
Chris was a solid human, a great friend, and more importantly, possessed empathy beyond his years. He would do whatever he could for anyone. He would offer to pay for things when he knew that others could not afford them, even if he himself was strapped for cash. He just made it happen.
Each one of us has a footprint beyond the Biker Community. I would be remiss if I did not mention Chris’ professional impact as an ICU Nurse. His peers and colleagues looked up to him, as evident by the many Facebook posts on his timeline and retelling of work time stories and antidotes. His ability to stay calm in emergencies, advocate for his patients, and provide on the spot training and support for his fellow nurses makes this loss even more heartbreaking.
What can I say?
‘You know that only the good die young
I tell ya
Only the good die young
Only the good die young’
Artist – Billy Joel
Normally this November issue would be filled with holiday cheer and gearing up for Christmas, but alas our biker community is mourning the loss of Mark “Munky” Berman. It has only been a few weeks and the pain and loss are still so very real to us.[Read more…] about Remembering Mark “Munky” Berman