OCEAN CITY — Before the fun festivities associated with Delmarva Bike Week and OC BikeFest in Ocean City begin, a more solemn event commemorating the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. was held today, beginning with a Boardwalk parade of more than 200 motorcycles and ending a ceremony at the Firefighter’s Memorial on N. Division Street.
For the ninth straight year, the Maryland chapter of the Red Knights Motorcycle Club hosted its annual 9/11 Parade of Brothers Memorial Ride on the Boardwalk in Ocean City. Over 200 motorcycles and thousands of spectators lined the Boardwalk from 27th Street, where the parade was organized, south to North Division, where a special ceremony was held to commemorate that fateful day.
Ocean City Fire Department ladder truck Tower 6 sat on the concrete pad adjacent to the Firefighter’s Memorial, which its huge American flag at half-staff wafting in the gentle breeze on an otherwise scorcher of a day. All of the flags at the memorial also flew at half-staff, struggling to stretch out in the stifling mid-afternoon heat.
After the parade down the Boardwalk, local Red Knights Senior Road Captain and Treasurer John Tartufo, who organizes the event each year, opened the ceremonies by thanking the town and its police, fire and emergency services agencies for making it possible. Tartufo called on the assembled throng to take a moment to remember that September morning 12 years ago. Bagpipers then led an honor guard onto the Firefighter’s Memorial for the placing of a ceremonial wreath and a silver firefighter’s helmet and black bunting at the foot of the memorial and just a few feet away from a burnt and twisted piece of steel girder from the World Trade Center at the back of the memorial.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan remarked that site on the Boardwalk on the late summer afternoon presented the perfect backdrop for the solemn ceremony.
“What could be a more appropriate place to be?” he said. “This is the perfect spot. I walk by this very spot several times throughout the summer, and I always see people stop at this memorial to pay their respects and read these inscriptions and it’s a tremendous reminder of the tragic loss and, more importantly, the resilience of this country. As long as I am mayor and hopefully long after, I will always be here on September 11 … We meet here this day with remembrance, gratitude and prayer.”
Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Larmore remarked on the size of the big crowd that had gathered and the growth in the annual event.
“It’s reassuring to see this big crowd here,” he said. “We will never forget September 11 and the size of this crowd, which I think is bigger than ever this year, assures that.”
Delegate Mike McDermott provided the most stirring address during the ceremony and called on those in attendance to remember the countless heroes on that day.
“Before September 11, we had different definitions of super heroes, those who could leap tall buildings or were more powerful than a locomotive, but we got a new definition on that day,” he said. “While people were rushing out of those buildings, they were running in. They didn’t look back to see who was watching, or if there was a television camera around. They made the ultimate self-sacrifice. When we talk of real heroes, we remember those who have fallen and many more yet to be born.”
McDermott called on the assembled crowd to mark the anniversary with prayer and remembrance, but also with resilience and strong will.
“People refer to that day as a tragedy, but it was an act of war,” he said. “We often ask for a moment of silence, but I urge you to lift up your voices. This is not a day for the faint of heart.”