OLD BRIDGE – For the last 18 years, communities in the United States have remembered Sept. 11, 2001, but sometimes is overlooked is Oct. 7 of that year. On that date, America’s response to the terror attacks began.
To honor the troops who fought, continue the fight and fell and everyone else impacted, Old Bridge hosted members of the Stride and Ride Relay, which educates the public about the importance of Oct. 7, 2001, the date of the first deployment of U.S. troops in the war on terror, earlier this month.
Give2Those, which sponsors the relay, charity founder Heather Viveiros recognized the 15 Old Bridge residents who were killed on Sept. 11 by presenting Mayor Owen Henry with a wooden American flag plaque with the names of the individuals.
“We are honored to host the Stride and Ride Relay tactical team at this ceremony and fully support all they do for veterans, active military, first-responders and their families,” Henry said. “We will proudly display the beautiful hand-carved plaque in the Thomas J. English Administration building as a constant reminder of those who tragically perished on 9/11.”
The ceremony also had a special presentation presenting a Purple Heart plaque in honor of Robert Skip Kitchen, which was accepted on behalf of his family by friend Michael Chonery. The plaque was created by Doug Pickel, the only civilian allowed to create Purple Heart Plaques.
The yearly Stride and Ride Relay spans 911 miles from Logan Airport in Boston and ending at Arlington National Ceremony. It includes runners, walkers, riders who carry the American flag with photographs of those who have been lost.
“[The] American flag to my right contains over ten thousand five hundred names and photos from every single person that lost their life on 9/11 to the six thousand nine hundred and seventy two troops that have lost their lives in the global war on terror to those that have lost their battle due to the invisible wounds of war, those that have lost their battle to illness from ground related illness those we've lost in the line of duty,” Viveiros said. “… we carry them beyond their finish line because we make it our mission to be that line that never truly finishes to be their dreams and their hopes and their voice.”
Give2Those’s goal is to “Bridge the gap between civilians, military and first responder personnel together one step, one mile, one event at a time.”
“We made it our mission to never forget, to never forget those who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Civil War, Revolutionary War, Desert Storm, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and welcome home to the Vietnam veterans,” Viveiros said.