Patriot Day Ride Commemorates 9/11 Anniversary

Harley-Davidson Jonesboro hosts bikers from all over the state

By Courtney Edwards | Aspiring Journalist
Delta Digital News Service

JONESBORO, Ark. – Bikers from all over Arkansas came together on Saturday to participate in the “Patriot Day Ride” event hosted by Harley-Davidson of Jonesboro and Freedom Biker Church Arkansas.

Harley-Davidson of Jonesboro General Manager Cara Roach said she wanted to organize a ride to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

EDIT_Cara Roach

Harley-Davidson Jonesboro Manager Cara Roach

“What says freedom more than Harley-Davidson and motorcycling? So, we decided to have a ride in remembrance,” Roach said. “We do rides all the time, but we’re a small dealership so when we’re trying to have bigger events, manpower is an issue,” Roach said.

Roach reached out to Todd Nelson, pastor of Freedom Biker Church Arkansas to ask if they would assist in a “blessing of the bikes” and a moment of silence.

The church did just that, as well as provide food for the bikers. Nelson and church members grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for participating bikers returning from the ride.

“We prayed for our country, prayed for our leaders and prayed for the families of those we lost 20 years ago,” Nelson said. “We did that, had a moment of silence and while everybody else rode, we started setting up to cook.”

The bikers took off from Harley-Davidson of Jonesboro around 9:30 a.m. to Black Rock and returned to Jonesboro around noon, where hot food was waiting for them.

Nelson said anyone is welcome to visit Freedom Biker Church Arkansas, regardless of whether they ride or not.

“About 70% of the people that come to church do ride, and about 30% don’t,” Nelson said. “You just are who you are. You don’t have to put on any kind of show to come to church.”

Nelson cooking

Freedom Biker Church Pastor Todd Nelson grills burgers for bikers attending the Patriot Day Ride at Harley-Davidson Jonesboro on Saturday.

Roach said with the anniversary falling on a Saturday, it was easy to get people together to participate.

“I think everybody was feeling very nostalgic about the Sept. 11 attacks and everything going on in the world today, and I think it was just a good excuse for people to get together and ride,” Roach said.

One of the motorcyclists, Mike Horton said he came to the event to honor the fallen. He said he felt bewildered and angry when he first learned about the attacks in 2001.

“I just didn’t feel like we should have been attacked,” Horton said. “That was the first large-scale attack in America that I knew about that killed innocent people.”

Horton wasn’t the only one who was shocked to hear about the tragedy that happened 20 years ago. Nelson said he didn’t understand the scale of it at first.

“I thought it was like a pilot error,” Nelson said. “As we watched the second plane hit, it felt like we were at war.”

Nelson said to him, the 20th anniversary meant remembering a time when America came together as a whole, rather than opposing political or religious sides.

Roach said it made her sick to hear about the attacks. She said she had a coworker at the time who was in the United States Air force. He was reactivated after the attacks and was no longer able to work at Harley-Davidson of Jonesboro.

“It’s shocking to believe that was 20 years ago,” Roach said. “It still seems like yesterday”