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CHICAGO (STMW) – The rumbling could be heard near Soldier Field even before more than 1,000 motorcycles rounded the corner for the end of Sunday’s Ride to Remember commemorating police officers who died in the line of duty.
Officers, motorcycle enthusiasts and family members of fallen officers finished the two-mile ride about 11 a.m.
As he finished his fifth memorial ride, Officer Dan Nunez, 45, reflected on the friends and fellow officers he was honoring.
“If they can give up their life, we can give up an hour or two of our time,” Nunez said. “It’s a way to show respect and dignity for all the fallen police officers.”
For seven years, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation has hosted the hour-long tour from the Chicago Police Harrison Area Headquarters at 3151 W. Harrison St. to the Chicago Police Memorial on North Harbor. The annual ride began as a fund-raiser to build the police memorial at the park and is now used to assist families of fallen police officers. It has grown from 125 riders in the first tour to more than 1,000 Sunday.
“It’s very touching to see how many people are supporting, encouraging and remembering the department, the city memorial fund and the officers,” said Elaine Haymaker, whose husband, Sgt. Alan Haymaker, was killed in an automobile accident on the way to a burglary in February 2010.
After the bikers finished, bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” during a moment of silence. Police Supt. Garry McCarthy addressed the crowd gathered in front of the memorial at Gold Star Park.
“It takes a special type of person to do [police work], but it really takes a special kind of family to support our cops,” McCarthy said. “The families of the fallen are the ones that give us strength.”
Two of Haymaker’s daughters rode in the event with their mother — Melina, 27, and Amanda, 25.
“My dad would be very impressed and honored that people are taking time to do something like this,” Amanda Haymaker said.