Ken Nacke always looked up to his older brother, Louis.
The siblings were very close and it wasn’t unusual for Louis to call Ken at sunrise just because he knew he would be home and he wanted to say hello.
Those phone calls stopped on Sept. 11, 2001.
Louis Joseph Nacke II was one of 44 people who died on Flight 93, which crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. after the passengers and crew tried to take back the plane from four hijackers.
“You miss the things that you take for granted like speaking to him everyday,” said Nacke, a Baltimore County police officer who lives in Dundalk. “Now that almost 10 years have passed, it’s a little easier, but you never forget.”
It is the desire to honor Louis, along with the other nearly 3,000 people who died that day, that led Nacke to participate in a motorcycle ride Saturday that served as an escort to a convoy that transported a beam from the World Trade Center in New York down to Baltimore.
Nacke was one of 18 members of the Iron Shields, a mostly law enforcement motorcycle club, to participate in the escort. The Baltimore City Fire Department Riding Group were also part of the escort for the beam, which will eventually be on display at the Baltimore City Fire Department Training Academy on Pulaski Highway.
“This isn’t a motorcycle ride, this is a part of history,” said Baltimore City Firefighters Riding Group president Vernon C. Odle, who lives in Middle River. “This is an honor for each and every one of us participating. This is our way of paying tribute to all of those that died on 9/11, including the 343 firefighters that died in the World Trade Center.”
Prior to the beam being taken to the training academy, the beam was on display for others to see at the Baltimore Convention Center as part of the Firehouse Expo.
Baltimore City Firefighters Riding Group Vice President Kate Cox, of White Marsh, said this was a very emotional experience for her and others involved in the ride.
“What happened on 9/11 could have happened here or anywhere else in the country,” said Cox, whose husband, Dave, is also a Baltimore City firefighter. “Whether we’re from Baltimore or New York, we’re all firefighters and we want to pay proper tribute to them.”
The 9/11 attacks were especially surreal to Baltimore City firefighter Avon Bryant.
At the time of the attacks, the Edgewood resident was also a member of the Air Force reserves and worked part-time with American Airlines, which had planes crash into the World Trade Center’s North Tower and the Pentagon.
“I could feel the emotions from all sides involved,” said Bryant, a 20-year veteran of the Baltimore City Fire Department. “I could not be more honored to have the opportunity to partake in this historic event. We can never forget.”