Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Daily American Newspaper Article


Motorcyclists mark anniversary By DAN DiPAOLO Daily American 30 North ChiefTuesday, September 11, 2007 12:48 AM EDTSOMERSET — The sixth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2007, is being remembered at Shanksville today by thousands of people. For more than two dozen, the tolling of the bells will mark the end of a 10 day cross-country journey.The Torches Across America motorcycle ride started in Oceanside, Calif., on Sept. 1 and ended here today with the goal of memorializing those who died, those who served and to recognize all of the country’s first responders.
“This country was in a total state of shock,” said organizer Gary Covert of the ride. Responders came out, helped keep the country together, he said.The Branson, Mo., native, has seen 16 communities respond to the ride and declare a recognition day. Additionally, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a resolution naming Sept. 12, “Emergency Responder Day.”“That’s why we ride. We don’t raise money, we’re not a foundation. They go because it is in their heart,” he said.For Covert, the inspiration for the ride came after he and his wife, Marge, explored the World Trade Center in late August 2001 on their way to see a terminally ill friend in Maine.“Eleven days after we left, it happened, so we all wanted to know what we could do,” he said.They chose a motorcycle ride because, according to Covert, there are no more patriotic people than bikers.Bar Porter, 41, of San Diego, is one of those making the trip with Covert. A recently retired Marine gunnery sergeant, he wears a tattoo with the dates Feb. 11, 1986, and June 30, 2007, on the underside of his right forearm. His date in, and then out, of the service.He said that he extended his service for a full year in order to deploy to Iraq with his military police unit. Once he arrived there in early 2006, he was stationed in the northern province Al Anbar and trained local police forces in the city of Rawah.The training had highs and lows, he said. Originally, there were 50 local trainees, and after a local insurgent leader had one of the men brutally beheaded, that number dropped to four, he said. But by the time he left, their numbers had climbed back to 175.“You’re trying to instill in them the idea that it’s about coming together as a country,” he said.This will be Porter’s first visit to Shanksville.(Dan DiPaolo may be contacted at

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