The 9-11 American Challenge: A memory and a promise
Photography of Liberty State Park and the 9-11 American Challenge by Louise Uznanski and Richard Uznanski
Early morning on Sunday, September 11 as the sun began to glow over Manhattan, there was a sense of peace and calm at Liberty State Park, where in a few short hours hundreds would gather for the start of the 9-11 American Challenge.
The eight day Ride to Recovery event was to begin from the Park in view of the World Trade Center site. More than 350 participants planned to cycle to the United 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania, and then continue to the Pentagon Memorial. The ride would honor the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States and include survivors, family members, and first responders from 9-11, wounded veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the general public.
A lone flyer surveyed the scene and pronounced the day ready.
.while Lady Liberty continued to light the way.
The still waters belied the excitement that was brewing a few miles away where the cyclists were dressed, packed, and helmeted. They would offer a moment of silence, timed to the first of the World Trade Center attacks, before leaving their hotel for Liberty State Park.
Other celebrants were already on site. U.S. Army marathoners ran through the Park with the flag held high.
Their colleagues kept a watchful eye from above, a reminder of the changes made necessary by 9-11-01.
One World Trade Center was clearly visible from the site. A symbol of independence and pride, the new building will be the tallest in America, measuring 1776 feet, when completed in 2013.
Then the cyclists arrived, hundreds of them, accompanied by support personnel, family, friends, media, and a buzz of happy chatter.
One of those cyclists, Vann Schaffner, had traveled across the country to participate in this Ride 2 Recovery event. A Navy veteran and accomplished cyclist,
Vann shared a moment with admirers
before the start.
Spectators including the American legion
and other friends cheered the cyclists on their way.
Behind the riders, the Empty Sky Memorial stood tall. Dedicated this very weekend, the Memorial stands in tribute to the 746 New Jersey residents who perished during the terrorist attacks. Parallel concrete walls are lined by stainless steel and engraved with the names of each victim. On September 11, the military honored the fallen.
Steel beams from the original World Trade Center lie just outside the Memorial.
Support staff brought up the rear as the 9-11 American Challenge riders departed.
including a motorcycle escort.
A fire boat sprayed red, white, and blue patriotism into the air
and a promise was made to cheerfully overcome life’s challenges, and to never forget.
Ride 2 Recovery is a non profit organization that supports rehabilitation programs for injured military that use cycling as the core activity. To learn more about Ride 2 Recovery: http://ride2recovery.com/
We would like to thank all those who contributed to the Taylor Hicks-Soul Patrol project for the 9-11 American Challenge. Approximately $1250 was raised to support Ride 2 Recovery and Vann Schaffner’s participation in the 9-11 event. We’d also like to thank Vann for allowing us the opportunity to work with him on this project. Cheers, Vann!