"Spirit" Passing through Mckinney
When the Spirit Ride passed through Jackson, Michigan on June 24'h last year, TV journalists had the option of covering a uniquely American ceremony honoring fallen first responders, or, a naked woman riding a motorcycle on the highway nearby. Where do you think the cameras went?
Well, the NBC affiliate, channel 10 WILX, covered the Spirit Ride. Aside from truck processions that often stretch into a parade of I 00 trucks or more, each Ride features a ceremony both solemn and celebratory in nature.
Spirit Ride ceremonies feature the colorful, custom-built Spirit casket, twirling rain sticks, color guards, Taps buglers, bagpipers and original folk songs performed live in tribute to first responders who have been struck down while working on the roadway. Present are dozens, sometimes hundreds of professionals from the police, fire, EMS, and towing services.
The ceremonial casket, named Spirit, was built eight-feet long and painted by Cecil Burrowes, an artist famous for his intricate designs air-brushed on wreckers. The scenes depicted on the casket represent all first responders and the perils they face on the highways.
The color scheme of the casket represents patriotism and tragedy. On one end are red and white stripes and faded stars. On the other end are red, white, and blue bars: red symbolizing the blood sacrificed, white - the spirit of the fallen, and blue - the loss to family.
The ceremony includes a blessing recited by all present and the singing of "Bless the Spirit Riders," an original song composed as an anthem for the Spirit Ride.
The Spirit Ride drew much media coverage as it crisscrossed the nation in 2017. Adding to the spectacle, 5,000 tow trucks and emergency service vehicles (fire trucks, EMS vans, police cruisers and motorcycles) joined in processions escorting the "Spirit Casket" through 2,000 municipalities, relaying the casket in 140 cities. Another 160 cities are scheduled for 2018.
Hundreds of men and women of towing, police, fire, and emergency medical services, are being maimed, dismembered, paralyzed, and killed annually. Sixty percent of these casualties are tow truck operators. The mission of the Spirit Ride is to promote public awareness of the Slow Down, Move Over law. According to the Federal Highway Commission 70% of the motoring public is unaware of the law, while others simply ignore it.
When the Spirit Ride comes through MCKINNEY, on 06/06/18, led by Safari Towing, Spirit's journey will capture attention of all Americans. After all, in this day and age you can watch a naked woman on a motorcycle anytime.
Points of Interest
- The man who built the Spirit casket is the same who wrote and sings the songs live at the ceremony: Booms in the Sky, Bless the Spirit Riders, I'll Return. His name is Mike Corbin.
- Many of the first responders present at the ceremonies were close to those who were struck down
- Casualty rate is increasing as the problems of motorists distracted by cell and smart phones, drugs, and alcohol, persist. The Federal Highway Administration has stated that casualties on the roadside have doubled among fire, rescue, and EMS sectors in 2017. Meanwhile a tow operator is killed every six days on the nation's highways.
- A tow operator changing a flat tire or working the levers of a car carrier is positioned but inches from traffic zooming by.
- The Spirit Ride began in 2017 and continues through 2018 routing from North Carolina, zig-zagging cross-country to California.
- The Spirit Ride RV Motorcoach was featured during an official ceremony at Federal DOT Headquarters, where the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary spoke promoting awareness of the risks first responders face on the highways.
- Many participants in the Ride have called for it to run perpetually as a travelling memorial day for First Responders.
- The Spirit Ride is a non-profit project of American Towman Spirit Inc., a 50lc3 corporation. The Ride was co-founded by American Towman Magazine and B/A Products. The Ride's support system is funded by corporate and individual contributions. All towing services are volunteered.