Local Riders, Firefighters Honor 9/11 First Responders

Posted at: 09/11/2013 11:01 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- On Wednesday night, a group of about 50 motorcyclists gathered in Mason City for a ride across Northern Iowa as a way of saying thank you for the sacrifices made by first responders and military personnel.

"[It’s to] pay tribute to our soldiers, our firemen, and our police,” said Jo Onken, president of the Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Association that organized the ride. “It's just to show them that we care."

The group observed a moment of silence before heading off for ceremonies in St. Ansgar, Lake Mills, and eventually back to the Clear Lake Fire Station.

In front of the station sits part of a broken steel beam taken from the rubble of the World Trade Center. The beam was given to the department in 2011 by a group of firefighters from New York.

On Wednesday, firefighters set up a memorial at the base of the beam, and they said the small tribute drew dozens of visitors throughout the day.

“All day it's just been steady,” said Lt. Jim Finstad. “People all day long have been coming by, stopping by the station and putting some flowers next to the memorial. It's really neat to see."

And while firefighters said they were honored to be recognized on such an historic day, they said they were more focused on those who gave their lives in the service of others.

“No one forces us to do what we do, we love to do what we do,” Lt. Finstad said. “So to be honored as a firefighter is kind of humbling, but that's not why we do it. For us it's more about remembering those who sacrificed."