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  • Nigel M Sainsbury

9/11 Memorial & Motorcycles

Updated: Jun 23


If you were a teenager or older in 2001, you will remember where you were on the morning of September 11. Last weekend I took the opportunity whilst in New York to visit the 9/11 Memorial. I am always impressed by the way Americans remember their past. The memorials across the USA depicting historic events and influencial people of the time are second to none. The 9/11 Memorial is no exception. If you ever find yourself in New York, the memorial is a 'must do' experience. It is more than just visual, it is an all senses experience. You come away with a real feeling of what it must have been like that day in September 2001. Within the memorial, are three beautiful motorcycles. The white chopper is a real piece of riding art and commemorates the rebuilding of the World Trade Centre. Commissioned by Daniel Tishman and built by Paul Teutul Jr of American Chopper fame. The design reflects the architecture of the new World Trade Centre. The spokes on the front wheel represent the One World Trade Centre and the ribbed fuel tank the façade of the Oculus, the focal point of the new World Trade Centre Transportation Hub. The mirror finish on the back wheel represents the two reflecting pools of the 9/11 Memorial. The Harley Sportster was owned by James Cartier, an electrician who lost his life at the World Trade Centre. James’ brother John, transformed the motorcycle into a tribute to his brother, reflecting James’ interests which includes his favorite sports team and a children’s book character called Curious George. The front mudguard is dedicated to the electrical workers of which 17 members were killed in the attacks. The rear mudguard pays tribute to the US Military. The third bike on display (not shown in full - sorry) is Ted Sjurseth’s Harley. This Harley has been decorated as an American Flag with the names of the first responders on the rear. Ted organized a memorial motorcycle ride to honor those killed on 9/11. The event grew to become an annual pilgrimage that visits all three sites where the hijacked aircraft crashed. Every year, hundreds of bikers take part in the 9/11 Ride. First stop is Shanksville, Pennsylvania the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93, the fourth hijacked aircraft. The ride then progresses to the Pentagon, Virginia and the crash site of American Airlines Flight 77, before concluding at the World Trade Center site where American Airlines Flight 11 (North Tower), and United Airlines Flight 175 (South Tower) crashed within 17 minutes of each other.

Motorcycles then are more than just vehicles. They can represent many different things. In this case, these bikes are symbols of a date in history, a historic world event, each with their own unique story to tell. They are memorials within the memorial. Whether you like motorcycles or not, you can’t help but recognize the significance of these beautiful machines that allows you to both admire and reflect at the same time.


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