The September 23rd Ride for the Monuments is expected to put the annual event close to a financial milestone.
The Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (A.B.A.T.E.) began the ride to benefit the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project in 2001 to support the campaign of state Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) by providing maintenance and upkeep for the more than 140 unit monuments and markers on the Gettysburg battlefield that memorialize the actions of Pennsylvania troops in the three-day clash.
The trek from Harrisburg to Gettysburg will begin with registration at 11 a.m. near the fountain outside the East Wing of the Capitol. A welcoming ceremony will start at 12:15 p.m. and the riders will form-up and roar off to Gettysburg at 1 p.m.
State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay has been appointed this year’s ride marshall. Solobay, of Washington County, has also served as a member of the state House and the state Senate.
“Once again, I am honored that so many riders participate in this event, to show support for maintaining the Pennsylvania monuments that honor those who fought and in some cases died at the Battle of Gettysburg,” Readshaw said. “These riders are leaving their own legacy, which is that we haven’t forgotten the historical importance of Gettysburg and the great sacrifices made in a clash known as a Civil War turning point.”
In addition to Solobay, state Reps. Bryan Barbin, Mark Keller, Bill Kortz, Jim Marshall and Dan Moul – along with former state Rep. Teresa Forcier from Crawford County and her “Motormaids” are expected to participate.
Over its history, the ride has brought in a total of $174,599. A large turnout of riders on the 23rd could bring that total close to $200,000.
The 2016 ride brought in $13,549 for the Monuments Project.
A.B.A.T.E. provided the funding for the three cupolas for the GBPA’s Historic Daniel Lady Barn in 2004 and later the beehive oven for the house. Beginning in 2010, the ride has also annually benefitted the maintenance of the Lady Farm. Thus far, $31,000 has been allocated to assist with the upkeep of the farm.
Music for the pre-ride ceremony will be performed by the B.S.A. Venture Crew 1861, portraying the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves Volunteer Fife & Drum Corps, which is sponsored by the GBPA. The corps will also play at the end location, Battlefield Harley-Davidson/Buell on Rt. 30 in Gettysburg.
The ride is open to all interested riders and is held rain or shine. Registration is $10.
The line of riders will be led to Gettysburg by the Mason Dixon God Bless America Motorcycle Color Guard. Local police and fire police agencies will provide traffic control along the route.
Motorcyclists are encouraged to fly the nation’s colors from their bikes, a tradition that began with the first ride on September 14, 2001, just days after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC.
Much discussion was held as to whether or not to cancel the ride, but Rep. Readshaw and A.B.A.T.E. decided to continue with the ride with an emphasis of presenting a “river of flags.” More than 500 drivers and riders participated with each bike carrying the American flag; an emotional display of patriotism in the dark days after 9/11.
Readshaw launched the Gettysburg Monuments Project in 1997 after learning of the backlog in funding for the National Park Service to make repairs to monuments damaged by decades of wear and tear caused by weather and the passing of millions of visitors.
Most of the Pennsylvania monuments and markers were erected by veterans of the battle, with the assistance of allocations approved by the state General Assembly. Readshaw also encouraged other states to restore and preserve monuments they placed on the Gettysburg battlefield honoring their respective soldiers. Several states took action following Readshaw’s appeal.
More information is available by contacting Readshaw's legislative office in Harrisburg at 717-783-0411 or by visiting the A.B.A.T.E. of PA website at www.abatepa.org.