The 15th anniversary of the attacks on America's homeland brought both recognition and celebration for the Laurel community.
Wildcat Harley Davidson hosted "Freedom Weekend" with two days of activities to honor those who serve and those who celebrate their liberties.
Saturday brought a recognition to area emergency responders with a presentation of gifts from local schools. Molly Barnett, Public Relations director for the Laurel County School District, recognized local law enforcement, EMS, and firefighters with presentations from each school in the county. The gifts ranged from handmade crafts, artwork by area students, and even a basket with a paper mache' Tiger from London Elementary School.
Saturday also hosted a blood drive, changing of the flags by North Laurel High School's JROTC students, food vendors, live musical entertainment and the Wall of Death challenge for bikers. Also on hand was Larry Anderson, a triple amputee who was featured in the film, "American Sniper."
On the day that marked a change of attitude of Americans, the local motorcycle dealership continued its celebration of the resilience of the country with a bike ride in conjunction with USA Cares. Riders gathered at the dealership, paid the $25 entry fee and gathered for a brief ceremony before heading on the bike route for Corbin.
The event was highly successful, said Chris Minton, marketing director for the London dealership.
Minton estimated nearly a thousand people visited the dealership over the weekend for the various festivities taking place on Saturday and Sunday. He said joining with USA Cares for the ride on Sunday was extremely successful. This organization raises money for the families of those affected by the events of Sept. 11, 2001 with financial support and advocacy. Based in Radcliff, Ky., the organization hosted the Flags Ride that began at the London Harley-Davidson dealership and ended in Corbin.
Minton said owner/manager Shane Richmond wanted to host the special events on the 15th anniversary of 9-11 as a way to honor those who died in the terroristic attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and the aborted plane flight that crashed in Pennsylvania.
For Richmond, the day carries a special meaning. He was in New York on that fateful day, scheduled for a meeting in one of the buildings that was struck during the terrorist attack. Fortunately for him, he overslept that morning.
The opportunity to help the families of victims of that attack that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people inspired Richmond to host the Freedom Weekend activities.
“Shane wanted to do this because of his connection with the day,” Minton said. “We also wanted to work with USA Cares because they are a good group to work with. We had a good response and we hope to make this an annual event.”