Good morning, Woody. I can see by your outfit that you're not a cowboy. Certainly not the pullstring cowboy of "Toy Story" fame.
No, not a cowboy. As assistant fire chief, Woody wears firefighter gear. Gear, not an outfit. I've got it straight, now.
Whatever firefighters wear, they're top-notch important. Thanks, guys, for being here for us.
Many New York City firefighters were among those who died during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers 10 years ago. So long ago, yet still so real.
For Barb Loots, of Fort Dodge, the attacks and their aftermath must have stayed tucked away in her mind for the past 10 years because on March 5 she had a dream.
"For some reason, the dream was about 9-11," she said. "And this is going to be the 10th anniversary. My husband, Mark, and I are avid motorcycle riders. I just had a feeling that we should have a memorial ride honoring all the lives that were lost."
And that was her dream.
"Actually, when I woke up, I wrote my dream down on paper," she said. "This was a very detailed dream. I remember it explicitly. I had where it was going to be, what the route was."
She knew what she wanted, because she listened to her dream.
"Then a friend of mine, it was his suggestion that we ride down to the Freedom Rock," Loots said. "In my dream, the ride was called the '9-11 We Will Never Forget Memorial Ride.'"
So, that's it. On Sept. 11, rain or shine, Barb and Mark Loots will lead a cavalcade of riders out of Fort Dodge and down to Greenfield on Highway 25, off Interstate 80. That's where a man named Ray "Bubba" Sorenson paints a new tribute to service men and women, both past and present, every year on a large granite boulder. The rock came out of the nearby Schillberg Rock Quarry, weighs 56 tons and stands 12 feet high.
The 9-11 Memorial Ride will honor service men and women and all others who serve or have served their communities and country. The $10 fee for each person will be used to send care packages to troops serving overseas.
Riders may register between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sept. 11 at the gazebo in the City Square. There will be a short program at 12:30 p.m., with input from the Fire Department. "The Flag of Honor," which lists the names of all those killed on 9/11, will be draped on a fire truck.
After the program, right at 1 p.m., the ride starts. It's Loots' hope that people will line Central Avenue, waving flags, when the motorcycles and cars take off.
"I thought it would be kind of neat if the community would get on the sidewalk with their flags," she said. The ride goes, rain or shine.
"I want people to come out and celebrate the 10th anniversary, to commemorate the anniversary," Loots said. "And to enjoy a day with family and friends on the open road. The more riders, the more we can help out our troops."
So there you have it. Even if you don't ride - or drive - you can still be part of the dream by standing on the sidewalk waving a flag.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org