CHICAGO (CBS) — It was quite a sight on the road on Tuesday: hundreds – and, soon, thousands – of motorcycles traveling together to Ground Zero for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Firefighters who heeded the call to help after 9/11 now return each year to honor the anniversary of the attacks.
As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, this year they’ll stop at all three 9/11 sites – the field in Shanksville, Pa., where United flight 93 went down; the Pentagon; and the World Trade Center site in New York City.
At exactly 9:11 a.m. Tuesday, sirens signaled a call to remember and some 200 firefighters on motorcycles were doing just that. They left Chicago Tuesday morning on the Chicago to New York 9-11 Memorial Ride, headed for Ground Zero to remember comrades lost on 9/11.
For those who helped sift through rubble after the attacks on the World Trade Center, images of Ground Zero are impossible to forget.
“You’re talking about eight days of surrealism. It’s really hard to fathom,” said Chicago firefighter Stanley Salata.
Tom Maloney, with the American Firefighters Motorcycle Club, was there too and was so moved by the scene that he and other firefighters have returned every year on their motorcycles.
“It’s just something that evolved, rather than took place or that I ever planned or aspired to do,” Maloney said.
They grieve their brothers in uniform, 343 of them killed that day, and monitor the progress of the Ground Zero memorial.
“And going from working there and looking at all that devastation and to see what is going on now, it’s kind of a healing process for us,” said Salata.
Each year, their ride grows. This year they expect about 7,000 riders – including firefighters from across the country and even overseas.
Tony Smith is one of more than 30 firefighters here from England.
“We felt it. The way I put it, I’m here today doing this and my crew is all at work today It would be like me going back home and they’re all gone. And that’s what happened to these guys,” Smith said. “It was just unimaginable to us.”
Smith, a member of the British Firefighter Club, said they feel they’ve turned a tragic anniversary into a positive event.