‘Rattle the Runway Ride' Commemorates 9/11 Victims, Families
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2006 About 1,200 Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders along with a peppering of folks on other types of bikes rode in the fourth annual “Rattle the Runway Ride" today to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Rex Howke, the co-founder of the Rattle the Runway Ride speaks to a group of motorcycle riders before departing from the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, near Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, for the Pentagon. The riders were taking part in the fourth annual Rattle the Runway ride to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Steven Donald Smith
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The riders assembled at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, near Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, before setting off on the short ride to the Pentagon.
“This commemorative ride is our way of saying we will not forget the victims of Sept. 11, 2001,” Rex Howke, the co-founder of the event told the bikers before the ride embarked. “We’re here because we want every parent, every spouse, every child, every relative of those heroes to know that their loss has not been forgotten. We will not forget 9/11!”
Howke, a retired fireman, and Marty Clarke, a Dulles airport operations officer, began the Rattle the Runway Ride in 2003. “I mentioned to Marty that I thought it would be awesome to take motorcycles out onto the runway where American Airline’s Flight 77 took off from before crashing into the Pentagon,” Howke said. “Within a few months we put the whole thing together.”
The first ride included just 300 motorcycles and began on the same runway that Flight 77 used during its departure. Due to security concerns, subsequent rides have not been allowed to ride on the airport runway.
Mike Quirin was participating in his third Rattle the Runway Ride today. “The ride is important not just to remember the victims of 9/11, but it’s important to remember the whole situation,” Quirin said. “We need to remember that we have to fight to retain our freedom.”
Sean Kennedy, who has a son serving with the Marines in Iraq, said he was riding to show solidarity with the families of Sept. 11 victims.
“I just felt like I should come out and remember the families who lost people on that day,” Kennedy said. “It’s an opportunity to recall what happened on 9/11 and to be mindful that a lot of folks lost an awful lot of loved ones. Not just here, but in New York, as well. I just wanted to take time to remember that.”
In addition to its symbolic meaning, the ride raised money for the Pentagon Memorial, which is being constructed near the Pentagon airliner crash site. The 2005 Rattle the Runway Ride raised $7000 for the memorial from the sale of Rattle the Runway patches.
Jim Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, was on hand at the end of the ride to thank participants for their contribution. ”Thank you all taking part in this great ride,” he said.
Laychak’s brother, Dave, was killed at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Dave Laychak was a civilian employee of the U.S. Army.
The Pentagon Memorial Fund is responsible for raising money, designing, building and maintaining the memorial, which is scheduled for completion in 2008.
Laychak said the fund began its fundraising efforts in April 2004 and has raised more than $12.5 million to date. Anheuser-Busch and AT&T have both donated $1 million to the memorial fund.
“I’m confident with the help of large corporations and people like you here in this crowd, that we’re going to raise the $22 million we need to construct the memorial,” Laychak said. “We owe it to our loved ones, we owe it to every one who witnessed what happened that day, and we owe it to the men and women overseas fighting to keep us safe.”