On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, about 250 riders, including veterans from various motorcycle clubs around Bakersfield rode across town. It’s something they’ve been doing for 16 years.
Bill Pitcher co-founded the 9/11 Memorial Support Our Troops Ride all those years ago for those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2000, and for the troops that went to war following the tragedy.
“We had three-thousand people die that day, and they weren’t soldiers. They were just hard working Americans,” Pitcher said. “It’s amazing, doing these rides, how many people just stop on the side of the road, they get out and salute, or they hold their hands over their heart.”
One of the riding groups that participated Saturday included The Sikh Riders of America.
The organization’s president, Gurinder Singh Basra said they joined the 9/11 Memorial Support Our Troops ride eight years ago and some of their riders are even veterans.
“There were Sikh community members that were working at the World Trade Center that day,” Basra said. “So, every year we come and remember the big loss that happened in New York, and also what we can all learn from it: to come together as a community bigger and stronger.”
The ride is meant to also honor the 50,000 veterans who live in Kern County, including veterans from the war in Afghanistan, according to the current organizer of the ride and the co-founder of the Armed Forces Support Foundation, Ben Patten.
“People deserve to be recognized and remembered, not just because it’s the 20th anniversary,” Patten said. “I’ll be here next year, doing the same thing again. After that day, thousands of young men and women stepped up, raised their right hand, and went out to protect you and I, to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”