Area motorcycle riders pay their respects

September 11, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • This group of motorcyclists traveled from Charles Town, W.Va., to Shanksville, Pa., on Sunday to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial.
Photo by Jennifer Fitch

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — Twenty-eight motorcycles from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia snaked down a winding, pastoral road Sunday afternoon to the newly dedicated Flight 93 National Memorial.

It was the annual 242-mile round-trip pilgrimage for a group of bikers who say they want to pay their respects to the tragic flight’s passengers and crew members.

“I’d encourage everybody to come here at least once,” said Bobby Shirley, who helped lead the ride from Charles Town, W.Va.

Debra Lohr of Inwood, W.Va., said she thinks about the final moments for those onboard the aircraft as it rapidly descended and crashed into a meadow. She said she thinks about the people trying to regain control of the flight from terrorists.

“I think of the terror they were feeling, but they fought back,” Lohr said.

Shirley, who is the sheriff in Jefferson County, W.Va., said visiting Shanksville every year reminds him not to take anything for granted.

The memorial area changed for this, the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, according to ride organizer Ray Rokni.

Visitors are not able to get as close to the crash site, Rokni said. More focus has been put on a pair of bells at the end of the gray walkway that follows the flight path, he said.

On Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden, and former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush helped dedicate the Wall of Names, where 40 names are etched into granite panels.

Makayla Mason, 12, joined her father on the journey to Shanksville from Charles Town.

“It’s just to pay our respects to the people who died,” she said.
Her father, Eric Mason, said he joined the motorcycle ride in two previous years.

“It could’ve been anybody I knew,” said Mason, of Kearneysville, W.Va.

To join next year’s ride, go to or call Rokni at 304-283-3416.

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