Gone, but still not forgotten
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 12, 2010 1:50 AM
Bikers are a peculiar breed of people, says John Pollock of Goldsboro.
"They'll be at war with one another but when there's a common cause, they'll turn up -- that's what we do," he said. "It's like a brotherhood.
"It's kind of like a bunch of football players. You have got two teams out there battling and when one gets hurt, they all gather around. It's a family."
For the 156 motorcyclists that departed from Shelton's Harley Davidson on Saturday, the common cause was remembering 9/11 and raising money for wounded veterans.
Hope for The Warriors sponsored the 107-mile 9/11 Hope Ride Poker Ride, this time featuring three start venues, each situated near large military installations -- Seymour Johnson in Goldsboro, Fort Bragg in Fayetteville and Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville -- representing the Air Force, Army and Marines, respectively.
The riders traveled to Stantonsburg, then the American Legion in Dudley, on to Warsaw and culminated with a ceremony in Wallace.
The ride raised more than $25,000 from all three legs, Jessica Farnell said Saturday night.
Her husband, Jamie, along with James Loper and Nick Ward, organized the local affiliate of Hope for the Warriors.
"It's blown up considerably in the last three years," Jamie said. "We have about 30 members now. The community knows what's going on and we have a lot of support and that's been great."
Sept. 11 was chosen for the event because of its significance, he said.
"It's something that everyone in the military can relate to," he said. "We were all put on alert. It's a day that nobody will forget."
The annual event is typically held on the Saturday closest to Sept. 11, said Brian Volk, sergeant at arms for Guardian Brotherhood, a veterans motorcycle organization of military retirees, veterans and active duty members.
With the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 next year falling on a Sunday, plans are already being made for it to be a two-day event, Volk said.
The outpouring of support, both in attendance and donations, has been impressive, organizers said.
"This event has just exploded. It's a real blessing. It's great because there's people on all different makes and models -- there's sports bikes, Harleys, it's just fantastic," Farnell said, adding, "It's all about taking care of each other and that's something that everyone from every branch of service can relate to."
Hope for the Warriors is a nationwide effort, its main office in North Carolina in Jacksonville.
It was started by a few Marine Corps wives at Camp Lejeune, but was expanded to help all branches of the military, said Kate Barto, from the Washington D.C. affiliate office. She said programs range from helping active duty and veterans' families pay bills to assisting with a better quality of life after being injured in the line of duty.
That was all Wade Moore of Pikeville needed to hear.
The Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force had two of his four children enter military service. He is also a member of Concerned Bikers Association of America.
"(The ride is) for the 9/11 memory, just trying to get our country back the way it used to be," he said. "I feel sorry for those guys coming back (from war.)
"I just hope these guys get the care that's required."
Moore said he participates in a lot of rides, but this one held special significance because of its support of veterans.
Pollock also served in Vietnam, as a machine gunner with the U.S. Army.
"There's more to us than just motorcycles," he pointed out. "We're vets, combat war veterans."
The reasons for lining up for the noontime ride were as varied and unique as the participants themselves -- some old, some younger, some on Harleys, some on choppers, but all united more by their similarities than their differences.
And one common thread was mentioned across the board -- the camaraderie each rider felt on such an auspicious occasion.
"I just wanted to support the military -- I had uncles, brothers, sisters who have been in, so anything I can do to give my time of service," said Marjorie Hagans, who has been riding for about three years. "Riding together, people with people, for the same cause, and it's wonderful to see female riders. It's just the thrill of the ride."
Mary Moore previously rode with husband Wade.
Not this year.
"I have always been a passenger, but started riding myself five months ago. I learned in April for my 65th birthday," she said.
Leslie Whitted of Mount Olive, an Army and Vietnam veteran, turned out because it was a charity run.
"He called me and I said yes," he said, referring to David Letchworth of Calypso.
"We have a motorcycle ministry -- ROC, which stands for Riders of the Cross -- started with our church and it just branched out," he said. "People from everywhere ride with us."
Other events were also going on commemorating Sept. 11 around the county.
At the Wayne County Public Library, Shorlette Ammons was overseeing a community garden workday as part of a National Day of Service event hosted by Wayne Food Initiative. Similar efforts were also going on at Washington Park Urban Farm and the garden at Dillard Academy School.
Ms. Ammons works with Environmental Farming Systems, a partner with Wayne Food Initiative and the library.
Among the volunteers were representatives in the Cooperative Extension master gardener program, as well as students from Wayne School of Engineering's SWARM program, or Students Working for an Agricultural Revolutionary Movement, and Seymour Johnson.
"Our primary task is just cleaning up the garden," said Ms. Ammons of the project started in 2006. It contains a variety of vegetables, herbs and a few flowers, she noted. "We're here to do some repair work to the beds, just make it look nice for whatever we decide to do next."
Armniecia Faison and Bath-She-Ba Patterson, seniors at the School of Engineering, were there four years ago when the original garden started, and jumped at the chance to be part of this year's project.
"I was thinking about the old days, when we all worked in the garden and I wanted to do it," Ms. Faison said. "It means a lot because it's the field I want to go in when I go off to college, to be an agricultural and environmental technician."
"Coming out and helping out, its like that feeling whenever you do something really good and really special, something that you like doing," Ms. Patterson said.
The students said they were cleaning out the excess, pulling up what didn't belong and harvesting peppers, okra and watermelon before starting on a new, fresh garden.
"I come out here every time she asks," Ms. Faison said of Ms. Ammons.
Base airmen Kenneth Jesttes (correct spelling) and Benjamin Burns were raking up roots and debris.
They had turned out upon learning about the volunteer opportunity.
"It's good to get out and help the community," Burns said.