#FollowFriday – @Americas911: Honoring First Responders, their families, and the victims of the September 11th attack.

by Doc Coleman - Nifty Tech Editor on August 19, 2011 · 0 comments

in Editorial, Follow Friday

I am not a big one for politics. Really, I’m not. A lot of the time I see politics as the opportunity to choose a side between two incorrect answers to an irrelevant question. There are problems inherent in the system, and all the energy goes to choosing sides instead of actually attempting to solve the problems. I just can’t get that worked up over answers to the wrong questions. So, that said, I hope you’ll forgive me if this post comes off as more politically inclined. I will admit that I am a bit ticked off over it, which is why this article is under the Editorial category too. So please indulge me, as I’d like to tell you a little about @Americas911, and what they’ve been doing.

@Americas911 is the official Twitter feed for the America’s 911 Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Leesburg, VA. The Foundation was created shortly after the September 11th terrorist attack that resulted in the loss of four passenger airliners, the World Trade Center towers, and caused a sizable chunk of damage to the Pentagon. The founders of the organization are professionals, patriots, and motorcyclists. They wanted to do something to support the first responders who put themselves into harms way on that day, many of whom lost their lives, and provide support for their families, and provide a visible symbol of that support to the public. That symbol became the 911 Ride, a three-day procession to visit each of the attack sites and honor the victims of the attack, and those who willingly put their lives on the line for us all. The 911 Ride is a charitable fundraiser held every year to raise money for the Foundation’s philanthropic efforts. Each year the Foundation awards $30,000 in college scholarships to children of First Responders, with $180,000 in scholarships awarded to date. The Foundation also donates a new police motorcycle to one of the Police Departments that provide escorts on the annual ride, and provides financial support to First Responders and their Departments. To date the Foundation has donated over $500,000 to First Responders and the Departments they work for. All of the members of the Foundation are volunteers, giving their time and money to support Police, Fire, and Rescue workers.

Today is the first day of this year’s 911 Ride, the 10th annual ride. While in the past, the ride was held close to September 11th, the date of the ride has been moved to allow First Responders and their families the ability to participate on the ride, but to spend September 11th at home to remember, and mourn, in peace. Being the 10th ride, this year’s ride has been somewhat bigger than the usual 400 or so motorcyclists that typically attend. This year the intent was to have one rider for each person who died in the 2001 attack. That’s almost 3000 motorcycles. And that has made this year’s event have more of an impact upon the surrounding areas. And that is what has me upset.

No, I am not upset at the motorcyclists.

I’m upset at the NIMBYs.

There have been some news articles lately, warning about street closures and the possible traffic problems those closure may create during this year’s ride. This has provoked some aggravated response from individuals who are furious that their lives may be inconvenienced by the event. One such poster that caught my eye was ranting over the closure of I66, a major feeder route to Washington DC during part of today’s rush hour. What this person, and the other NIMBYs who flocked to support his rant failed to notice was that I66 inbound to DC is being closed during the outbound rush hour. So the vast majority of the impact on traffic won’t be from the road closure, but from drivers slowing down to gawk at motorcycles heading the other way. And suddenly the mountain becomes a mole hill.

Of course, what really lit my fire were the comments asking how a bunch of bikers got to power to close state roads so they could have a parade and asking, “How can I get that power?” Firstly, these “bikers” are NOT some random group of homeless criminals raiding the countryside on motorcycles Mad Max style. These gentlemen are professionals who are taking time away from their jobs in order to give something back to the greater community. And they didn’t just decide to “go parade” a week or so ago over beers. This year’s ride has been in active planning for over three years, and the organizers have been working with state and local governments for the past decade to coordinate each leg of the annual rides to be as safe and seamless as possible. You want the power to close a major road? Get up out of your armchair and spend a few years doing something to benefit the community, developing relationships, and building a support organization from nothing.

But this post is supposed to be about Twitter. If you follow @Americas911 this weekend, you’ll see a lot of tweets about the ride, including links to pictures (mostly uploaded to Facebook) along the way. I encourage you to do this, and to tweet your support to @Americas911 for the charitable work they do all year round. If you feel like donating to show your support, or joining the effort yourself, you can do so at the America’s 911 Foundation website, http://www.americas911ride.org/.

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