Blog By Smiles

Never Forget ~ 9-11-01

Never Forget

September 11, 2001


For many of us, that has become one of those few days in our lives that we say “I’ll never forget what was happening in my world when this tragic event unfolded”

I know I’ll never forget… I’ll never forget waking from a fiery explosive nightmare just before 6 am (local Arizona time), frightened and unsure of what triggered such a dream in my sleep. I’ll never forget turning on the TV to the sight of the first tower with plummets of smoke pouring out of the building, some 90 plus stories high. Then watching in utter and absolute disbelief and horror as the second plane came slowly and methodically drifting towards the second tower and took impact mercilessly.

All of us who are old enough to remember that morning have our own stories and memories of where we were in our lives, when our country and our world changed forever from how we knew it, prior to 8:46 am New York time. And probably most of us still have images and memories in our head that have left permanent, searing scars and seething pain in our hearts, of what we witnessed, whether from afar or being right in the midst of it all.

It’s been 16 years since that bloody, murderous, terrorist assault took place on our country. Sixteen years that I can’t seem to shake or forget. Nor do I want to. I don’t want to ever forget about the 2,977 innocent lives that were viciously murdered at the hands of 19 nameless terrorists. I don’t think I ever could.

Every year in Tempe Arizona, there is a park that is transformed for 3 or 4 days into a huge field of American Flags, nearly 3000 of them. The park is aptly renamed The Healing Field during these days that the flags are in place. On each flag, there is a card with the name of one of the people whose life was lost on 9-11-01. There is a short bullet statement or bio about that individual. The field is laid out in a way where all the first responders have yellow ribbons on their flags, and those flags are on the perimeter of the field. All of the flight crews are symbolized with blue ribbons. The military men and women who perished have a pair of donated combat boots at the base of their flag, and the children have teddy bears.


To walk onto this field literally takes ones breath away. It exudes such an overpowering sense of melancholy. But it is also a place where one can come to reflect, remember, learn, meditate, breathe, feel at peace, and pay respects to the victims of 9-11.

A few years ago, one of the ladies in our local biker community met up with a friend for a cup of coffee and then they headed over to the Healing Field together, to be there for the Opening Ceremony, which takes place at the same time that the first tower was struck. The following year, a couple more bikers met up with them, and they rode over together. Every year after, as people in the community have become aware that this meet-up was happening, the number of bikers has increased. This year was no different. There were approximately 20 or so bikers that all met up at the local coffee house, and rode over in unity to the Healing Field. To hear the thunderous roar of the motorcycle engines and see the flags waving proudly from our bikes is a beautiful sight, and it is yet another way to exemplify how our biker community pulls together and displays a positive image to the local city and people.

This year, just like in years past, I took part in reading some of the names during the opening ceremony. The names I got this year were of 10 of the firemen lost.


Each year after the opening ceremony is completed, I pull away from the crowd and randomly walk through the field in solitude. I read a few names. I learn little snippets of who some of these people were. I silently pray for their families and loved ones who continue to live day to day without them no longer here.

Below are just a couple of the names I picked up this year when I was in the field:


Paige Farley-Hackel. Paige was a close friend of a friend of mine from Boston. She was a spiritual advisor who was 46 years old. She was on American Airlines flight 11.


David P. Kovalcin. David was 42 years old from Hudson, NH. He, too, was on American Airlines flight 11. He was an engineer for Raytheon.


Lt. J.G. Darin Howard Pontell. Lt. Pontell was only 26 years old from Columbia MD.
“Darin Pontell graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy. His job in Navy intelligence took him to some of the most dangerous regions of the world. Darin decided in 1989 (age 14) to enlist in the Navy. His older brother, Steven, a Navy pilot, was killed that year in a crash on the USS Lexington. ‘When that happened, Darin mentioned that he’d like to pick up where his brother left off, to complete the circle.’ His father, Gary Pontell, said.”

Last year, a young female soldier was witnessed paying her respects in the form of approaching each and every flag on the field, and rendering salute. Every year, thousands of people come out to the Healing Field, and every year the number of people in the motorcycle community who show up to ride over together increases as well.

This is a tragedy that affected each and every one of us in one way or another. We all have our own ways of remembering and coping, of paying respect. One thing that we must never do, though, is to forget… Never Forget the events of 9-11-01 and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

With deepest respect ~ Smiles

To see more images from this event, please check out our dedicated page at Biker Events Magazine