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Sept. 11 bike ride honors terror victims, contributes to Sean Collier Fund

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  September 11, 2013 05:53 PM

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Hundreds of police observed a moment of silence at the Boston Marathon finish line just before 2 p.m. Wednesday, remembering victims of April’s terrorist attacks and the attacks 12 years earlier.

Although some officers came from as far away as Florida and Colorado, all wore the same uniform: the bicycle shorts and zippered shirts of the Tour De Force 9/11 Memorial Bike Ride, an annual event that raises money to support the families of police killed in the line of duty. The ride began at Ground Zero in New York and ended at Copley Square.

The moment of silence “brought people to tears,” said Captain James Hasson, commander of Boston police department’s District E-5 station, participating in the ride for the seventh year.

Hasson said the ride has always held special meaning for local officers, but hit closer to home this year, as the final leg of the four-day ride was dedicated to MIT police Officer Sean Collier, slain as he sat in his cruiser on April 18.

Ride organizers pledged a total of $40,000 to the Sean Collier Memorial Fund to help send prospective officers to a police academy.

Collier’s stepfather, Joe Rogers, and sister, Jennifer Lemmerman, said this honor and others recognizing Collier’s sacrifice were meaningful to the family.

“We’re very grateful to all the police officers that showed their support for Sean and helped fund the scholarship,” said Rogers, 57, who lives in Wilmington. “It’s been difficult, but events like this where people show their appreciation for his service are very helpful.”

“I think the fact that this is all police officers really means a lot,” said Lemmerman, 31, of Melrose. “He really felt the brotherhood of the police.”

Lemmerman said she feels the loss of her brother daily, but the closesness of the family has helped them weather the months since his death.

“Every day is a little bit different, and different things make me miss him in different ways,” she said. “It’s still just as painful today, I think, as it was in April, but we try to recover together and do the best we can.”

The annual ride, which was first held on the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, included some other first responders and city workers, as well as police from around the country.

At its conclusion, about 300 riders paused for a moment of silence and then rode into Copley Square for a short ceremony, as bagpipers from the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums played first “The Army Goes Rolling Along” and then segued into “God Bless America.”

Cambridge police Officer Joe Kelley was a first-time rider, one of more than 100 Boston-area officers who joined the ride on Wednesday for its final leg, from Warwick, R.I., to Copley Square.

“A lot of us were attracted to it because of the death of Sean Collier,” said Kelley, 49.

Kelley said that police “look out for one another,” and that he didn’t mind riding in the intense heat, as temperatures rose well above 90 degrees Wednesday afternoon.

“It could have been worse,” he said. “It have been cold and wet, I guess. I’ll take this.”

Boston police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, who spent a short time working at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks, said in an interview that the anniversary is a time for reflection.

“This whole day has an enormous amount of meaning to me and to the families I’ve gotten to know over the years,” he said. “And with the April 15 [Boston Marathon bombings], Boston becomes more of a front of the war on terrorism.”

During the ceremony, Davis read a proclamation from Mayor Thomas M. Menino that declared the day Police Officer Sean Collier Day in the City of Boston. Davis saluted Collier and condemned the men -- the suspected Marathon bombers -- who allegedly killed him.

“Sean was one of us,” Davis said. “He was a hero. He was executed by people representing evil.”

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Back Bay on Twitter: @YourBackBay.

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