After 15 years, state police in Maryland and Virginia are shutting down “America’s 911 Ride,” a memorial ride that is very heavily, but not exclusively, attended by police and firefighters.
The ride begins at Highland Harley-Davidson in Somerset, Pennsylvania on Friday, August 19, travels to the nearby Flight 93 Memorial and from there to the Pentagon and finally to the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Between 1,200 and 1,400 hundred riders are expected to participate this year.
Since 2001, the ride has been organized by Ted Sjurseth, a computer consultant who lives in Lucketts, Virginia. Sjurseth is one of the founders of the non-profit “America’s 911 Foundation.” The foundation funds “a College Scholarship program for children of Active First Responders(EMS, Fire, Police) who each day place their lives on the line for all of US. The foundation assists Emergency Organizations with funds, materials, equipment and/or Volunteers when needed.”
This year the foundation distributed 15 college scholarships of $2,000 each. According to Sjurseth, the foundation has distributed $330,000 in scholarships over the last 15 years. The foundation has also donated 14 Harley-Davidson motorcycles to police departments.
According to David Dishneau of The Associated Press, officials object to “the first leg of the America’s 911 Ride, from Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to Arlington, Virginia, always on a Friday. State agency officials say it can cause five to 10-mile backups, and stall home-bound commuters near the Pentagon.”
Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said commuters complain every year.
Sjurseth told Dishneau he is particularly frustrated with police because his foundation benefits the children of police. “It was like, ‘We do this for you. We have the highest regard for you,’ and it’s sad when it comes down to that,” he said.
The Maryland Governor’s office called Sjurseth a “malcontent.”
If you are interested in participating in this year’s ride you can find more information about it here.