Every year, motorcycle riders show their support for the troops the best way they know how by putting their pedals to the pavement for the Annual 9/11 Support Our Troops Memorial Run.
Last year, bikers rode to the Bakersfield National Cemetery in Arvin for a ceremony, and this year will be no different to honor the 11th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
"On September 11, 2001, a tragedy occurred and we all know that, but people have forgotten that kids are dying everyday," said Ben Patten, this year's ride coordinator. "Kern County is so incredibly supportive of our veterans and we need to keep that information and memory on the forefront of everybody's minds."
Patten is the parts manager at Bakersfield Harley-Davidson. The shop on Merle Haggard Drive is where this year's memorial ride will begin before bikers will head to Shafter Airport for a special program at Minter Field.
"The very first ride that we did, we started from South High School and rode to North High School," said Bill Pitcher, co-founder of the Support Our Troops ride. "There was a young lady in the ride with us who lost her father in 9/11 and we just promised we're going to do it every year."
This will be the sixth year bikers have kept that promise, and every year, they send a video copy of the ride to our troops overseas. Pitcher has a picture of a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel from Bakersfield who has a flyer for the ride on his wall in Kabul, Afghanistan.
"You remember trying to buy a flag in Bakersfield on September 15, 2011?" Patten asked. "You couldn't find one and people have forgotten that kind of stuff and that kind of patriotism that we all enjoyed back then. I think this motorcycle ride is to rekindle that and keep it alive."
The Annual 9/11 Support Our Troops Memorial Run will start at 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Harley-Davidson at 35089 Merle Haggard Drive. Bikers will ride for about 20 minutes to the Minter Field Air Museum for a short program at 7 p.m. which will include a salute to our nation, a prayer and taps.
Guest speakers include U.S. Sgt. Major Jason Gies, County Supervisor Mike Maggard, and war veteran Jeremy Staat. Organizers advise attendees to come early because they are expecting more than 400 riders.
For more information, you can contact 661-332-7524 or 661-325-3644.