About two years ago I received an email from a reader named Gary Williams inviting me to ride around southwestern Pennsylvania and attend the 9th annual ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek Township. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend that year, but as promised, Gary invited me again the following year to spend the weekend at his family’s cabin at Indian Lake, only a few miles east of the crash site. With such a generous proposition and the opportunity to visit the crash site during the weekend of the 10th annual memorial ceremony, I gladly accepted Gary’s offer. I was honored that I would get visit the memorial site on such a historic day and pay my respects to the 40 passengers and crew members on Flight 93 and the nearly 3,000 others who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
The weekend was scheduled with various ceremonies with the dedication of the first phase of the Flight 93 Memorial taking place. For that event, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were scheduled to give speeches. Then on Sunday President Barack Obama, was scheduled to visit the site for the 10th anniversary commemoration.
This cross-shaped piece of steel from the North Tower of the World Trade Center was escorted from Brooklyn, New York, by hundreds of motorcycles, Engine 343, and FDNY firefighters, and presented to the Shanksville firefighters.
This cross-shaped piece of steel from the North Tower of the World Trade Center was escort
Arriving in Pittsburgh, Gary and his friend, Dave Musser, picked me up from the airport with plans of departing for Indian Lake in the morning once Gary’s friends, Mel Bliss and Bill Rooker, arrived. Our ride to Indian Lake was beautiful as we careened through the back roads and lush two-lane highways, the Electra Glide that Gary procured for me from Z&M Cycle Sales made for a great travel companion.
After settling into the cabin, Gary took us for ride and gave us a local’s tour of the Shanksville area. While the crash site is located in Stonycreek Township, most people often refer to neighboring Shanksville. Winding along the back roads amongst the rolling hills we ended up at the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department. Currently comprised of about 28 active members, the department covers a district of approximately 62 square miles and a population of about 2,500. Located mere miles from the crash site, members of the department were some of the first on the scene. When we arrived, the department was having a private barbecue for family members of the crash victims, so we respectfully, rode away hoping to come back the next day (Saturday) to get some photos of the department and meet some of the volunteers.
Saturday morning we hit the road with our destination being Z&M Cycle Sales, about 50 miles away in Greensburg, to visit with owners Kim McMahan and her brother, Jim. A few miles down from Indian Lake, along historic Lincoln Highway, we passed the entrance to the Memorial site and it became quite clear how big the day’s event was going to be and how high security was. With several cop cars in the middle of the road and officers guiding traffic into the park, the line of cars, trucks, and motorcycles trying to make their way into the memorial site stretched for miles as we made our way to Greensburg.
Arriving at Z&M, I was introduced to Kim and was very impressed by how big the dealership was. Originally opened in 1968 with three employees, the dealership has continued to expand and his been family-owned for 64 years with Kim and Jim holding the reigns for the past 11 years. The dealership has been in its current location since 2005 and now has a staff of 44 employees and covers everything from service and repair to new and used Harley and Honda sales, Harley rentals, and a large apparel section. The day we were there, Z&M was hosting an open house party and chili cook-off and was a destination point for many of the incoming riders heading to the memorial site. With the previous day’s clouds cleared away, there was a great turnout of local and out-of-town riders enjoying the music and free chili and hot dogs. It was quite obvious that Z&M has been held in high regard amongst the local riding community as most of the people in attendance were like extended family. And with Kim’s generosity, (she purchased all the food for the event-including all the ingredients for the chili cook-off entrants) it’s obvious why her family’s dealership has been so successful over the years.
Gary and I stopped to pose for a picture with his American Iron Horse Texas Chopper with Indian Lake in the background.
Gary and I stopped to pose for a picture with his American Iron Horse Texas Chopper with I
Off in the distance is the marble wall with the 40 slabs featuring the names of the Flight 93 passengers.
Off in the distance is the marble wall with the 40 slabs featuring the names of the Flight