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«< IMPORTANT READ »> for all of our FIRE AND IRON MOTORCYCLE CLUB (MC) Facebook friends, those from other MCs, and those who support MCs across the United States. This will be the longest FB post I will EVER make…promise but its worth reading.
FIRST, I’ll ask you to read the COLUMN: Is Dec. 7 still a date which lives in infamy?, written by BY DONNIE JOHNSTON / THE FREE LANCE–STAR Newspaper, which reads:
"I WONDER if there will be a bunch of grizzled guys on motorcycles riding around Saturday.
Why Saturday? Well, it was 72 years ago Saturday that Pearl Harbor was attacked.
“Dec. 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy.” Those were President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words to the nation the day after the Japanese struck in Hawaii.
I’d be willing to bet that at least 95 percent of Americans won’t have a clue that Saturday is the Pearl Harbor anniversary. Most of the 5 percent who will remember will be over 75 years old.
We promise never to forget, but too often we do. That’s just the way it is.
But will the grizzled guys on motorcycles forget? Will they be out in force clogging the highways and byways in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day?
They roared into D.C. three months ago to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, so I would assume there will be thousands of bikers on the road Saturday. It would not be right to commemorate one American tragedy and forget another.
I’ve often wondered how this biker honor guard custom got started. How does riding down the highway on a motorcycle honor the dead? To me, all it does is create a lot of noise and traffic problems.
Maybe I shouldn’t question sincerity or motive, but it seems to me that these biker excursions are little more than a chance for these old boys to put on their helmets, zip up their leather jackets and go for a long ride with a bunch of buddies. But then I’m a cynical person.
To me, there would seem to be better ways to honor the dead than having a high old time riding around on a Harley–Davidson.
During the era of the Black Death, for instance, there was a group of men who, like today’s motorcycle honor guard, went from town to town in parts of Europe to express their sorrow.
They were called the Flagellants, and they walked the countryside beating themselves with whips.
This would seem a more appropriate way to honor those who have fallen than riding around on a motorcycle burning gas and spewing carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.
Whipping oneself with a cat-o’-nine-tails until the blood dripped would allow a man to feel the pain that fallen heroes had felt. Feeling the warm breeze on your face from atop a motorcycle just doesn’t provide the same punishment.
The Sioux Indian tribe also had a fine way to associate with the sorrow of others. They would tie a weight to a leather thong and then, using a fishhook-like instrument, pierce their chest muscles and swing the weight until it pulled the flesh away.
I guess we just don’t have the dedication today that people had back then. Those folks were really committed. They thrived on pain.
This motorcycle honor guard isn’t always appreciated. I recently spoke to someone who participates in funerals at the National Cemetery, and she complained that often no one can hear the service because guys on motorcycles go roaring past.
And traffic becomes a real mess when 500 bikers, strung out for maybe three miles, zoom down the highway.
Personally, I think these grizzled men should change their custom and just walk about the countryside beating themselves with whips to show their grief.
It would be a lot quieter in the cemeteries and there would be a lot less traffic on the highways.
But if these grizzled riders are going to commemorate American tragedies with their bikes, then don’t just work the ones during fine weather when the riding is good. The forecast calls for rain and possibly ice Saturday and Sunday, but it is still Pearl Harbor Day weekend.
Remember, this was a date purported to live in infamy.
Gas ‘em up, boys!
——————— END OF ARTICLE ——————-
Once you read & have a complete dissatisfaction for the article’s author, then SECOND I’ll ask you to read the rebuttal that I sent to the Newspaper’s Editor(s), which is included in the text below:
=== FIRE & IRON MC - STATION 161 (Northern Virginia) REBUTTAL ===
Mr. Editor (Nicholas J. Cadwallender),
I respectfully and humbly offer this letter to you regarding a recently published article written by Donnie Johnston in your Free Lance-Star newspaper. The article printed in your newspaper and was entitled, Is Dec. 7 still a date which lives in infamy?
I hope that you will allow me the indulgence of your time for a moment or two. While this article does not target a particular group of motorcyclists, you need to understand that we, among many, find the article published in your newspaper as offensive.
Before I address specific comments made by this so-called freelance journalist, I would like to help baseline your understanding of our Motorcycle Club (MC) membership so that you have a stronger appreciation of who we are and what we represent. Our Fire & Iron MC is a National organization of first responders, e.g., Firefighters, Medics, Emergency Medical Technicians, and many others associated with the fire service. We risk our lives every minute of every day as we are dispatched to 911 calls in communities across the United States. We respond to hundreds of thousands of emergency calls in every community in this great Nation. We fight fires; respond to traumatic situations like automobile accidents and those so many needing of emergency care. Simply put, we place ourselves in dangerous situations in response to help others. Our Fire & Iron MC membership is comprised of First Responders (both professionally paid & volunteer), business executives, Moms & Dads/Sons & Daughters, and each and every one of them are sincere and caring individuals who work hard, give their time to help their communities and are law abiding citizens. We care so much for each other that we choose a common passion in the fact that we enjoy riding motorcycles, our club was formed in southern Florida. Many others joined in on the idea and before we knew it a National organization was formed. As the National club was formed we established a governing set of rules that each of our members are obligated to follow. Many of our membership are former members of the United States Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, National Guard and other branches of the service. We are emotional each time we hear the National Anthem and see the American Flag flying high because of our love of Country and for those who have served and sacrificed for our freedoms. Our Motorcycle Club, like many, supports local community charities like donating to local food banks, hosting Poker Runs where motorcyclists pay a fee to register and ride along with the other motorcycle clubs all with the focus of raising funds for local charities, and we support local events like Wreaths Across America. There is so much to explain here that it will take a face-to-face dialogue for you to completely understand the breath of our vested interests in our community.
We believe in Honor, Respect, Service and we are Patriots, and we are a Brotherhood. So that Mr. Johnston does not have to look it up, Oxford Dictionary defines Brotherhood as: an association, society, or community of people linked by a common interest, religion or trade. Our trade is protecting the lives and property for those within our community. We administer Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) when an elderly person stops breathing, we cut open cars when the communities’ teenagers are involved in automobile accidents, and we rush into burning buildings when every logical person runs out. Call that what you will but we will always consider it a slap in the face when someone like Mr. Johnston calls us “grizzled guys” and it is used with a negative connotation.
Now to the disheartening and disrespectful article you allowed to be published in the Free Lance Star. Not sure what motivated Mr. Johnston to think, much less write, such an article but there is only hate represented therein. I am, quite frankly, shocked and surprised that a reputable newspaper like the Free Lance Star, would even allow such an article to clear through the vetting process of our most junior editor. In a time when printed publication is struggling to sustain itself due to the expansion and accessibility of on-line media, one would think that any newspaper would be more aware of what it publishes and not unnecessarily provoke the sleeping”grizzled guys”.
I suspect that many of our female Fire & Iron MC members have taken personal offense to be categorized by Mr. Johnston. They, like many of our clean shaven members might take issue with his generalization of being ”grizzled guys”.
I am happy to announce that we have not and will not forget all of the notable anniversaries that have shaped this great Nation of ours. We, of course, recognized the anniversary on the attack of Pearl Harbor so it is unfair and quite frankly insults that your writer, Mr. Johnston, believes that 95 percent of Americans won’t have a clue. We talk about this and other anniversaries on social media, in club meetings and gatherings, and mostly because some of our ancestors died during this and similar events. How dare Mr. Johnston believe that because he has access to a media outlet like a newspaper he can insult and disgrace the memory of our family and friends [?] Unless he managed a comprehensive survey of the population of this great Nation’s citizens then he should find an alternate line of work and not insult the intelligence or the patriotism of our U.S. citizens.
We celebrate dates like the United States Marine Corps birth date; the attack of 9-1-1, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and the dates that we have lost members of our Fire & Iron MC while they were serving our country in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world for you see we, like many other MCs around the country, believe in brotherhood.
There is a saying in the motorcycling riding community that reads, “Loud Pipes Save Lives”. The reality is that those loud pipes save OUR lives. If you have ever been fortunate enough to ride on a motorcycle then you’ll know that there is a substantial part of the population who are distracted drivers, typically doing something other than focusing on the task at-hand, driving. With the advent of the personal mobile devices, many of these distracted drivers are texting on their cell phones. Having these “loud pipes” at least alerts the distracted driver that there is a motorcycle in the area. There are also practical reasons for motorcycles versus cars & trucks, to include 500 cars/trucks would take up dramatically more space than motorcycles; burn significantly less gas than other vehicles creating a more sustainable mode of transportation and spew far less carbon monoxide into the atmosphere than others in larger vehicles. Moreover, after the Pearl Harbor Attack our returning United States Veterans found it much more affordable to purchase motorcycles then cars and they themselves started the time honored tradition.
I will forego the nostalgic banter about how Harley Davidson motorcycles are as much about American culture and bought in the U.S.A as they are about their look, design & engineering, and great ride. Maybe Mr. Johnston should place another task on his Bucket List and go out and ride a Harley. Maybe then he’ll get a clue.
I also take personal offense to Mr. Johnston’s comment, “then don’t just work the ones during fine weather when the riding is good. The forecast calls for rain and possibly ice Saturday and Sunday, but it is still Pearl Harbor Day weekend.” As a point of reference, this past Saturday National Cemeteries across the country honored our fallen heroes in the form of wreath laying events, including in our own back yard at Quantico National Cemetery. I hope that someone from your newspaper was there to capture the photos and interviews making the event news worthy. If you, and Mr. Johnston, look in the weather section of your newspaper you will find that the weather forecast was near freezing with a chance of freezing rain and/or snow. In spite of this weather forecast, many Motorcycle Clubs from the area, including Fire & Iron MC, were there on their Harley Davidson motorcycles to honor our fallen heroes because that is what we do, honor our fallen HEROES. I hope that you put that in your paper!
I believe that I have made my point, but I will encourage you to reach out directly to me, or my Fire & Iron MC President, for a face-to-face discussion. In the meantime, we will help prepare whatever tools Mr. Johnston believes HE should use for his own personal flagellation”.
For your convenience I am attaching the text from Mr. Johnston’s December 6, 2013 pathetic article.
I hope that you will reconsider allowing any future disgraceful and disrespectful articles, which serve no purpose other than to chastise those who are willing to serve their community, their citizens and their countries. God Bless America!
I remain available to discuss this article and our Fire & Iron MC - Station 161 response.
David Jarrell (aka: Duct Tape)
Fire & Iron Motorcycle - Fire and Iron Station 161 (Northern Virginia)
Road Captain / Public Information Officer
- George Smith, Federal Fire Officer (Retired) Fire & Iron MC Station 161 President & Virginia State Representative for Fire & Iron MC
- John McDonald, Federal Fire Battalion Chief & Fire & Iron MC Station 161 Vice President
- Ernest Desantis, Federal Firefighter & Fire & Iron MC Station 161 Vice President
p.s. I have a request of you. Consider publishing a positive article about some of the positive Motorcycle Clubs in the Northern Virginia area. We can help facilitate and our MC will even get the article started if you like. Deal?
It laughs, smiles and cackles as the dirt digs into my nails.
Muscle fibers rip, and tear as each arm frantically searches for a grip, a crevice anything to grasp hold too…
Like tar slowly molding around my body, it creeps upward. First at my feet moving until it brushes the tips of my fingers, and as I pull away so does it advance, until it bears its full weight on my chest.
Pressure slowly seizing my core, crushing my heart, ribs, lungs and skin till it pierces every pore.
Slip, tumble, and fall.
This despair welcomes me with open arms, laughing through it all.