In the next eight days, the journey of Flight 93 will be completed as a way to honor its 40 heroes and bring attention to creation of a permanent memorial to those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, in Somerset County.
Family members of passenger Louis "Joey" Nacke will follow the flight's intended path, beginning today in Newark, N.J., visiting the Flight 93 crash site and temporary memorial in Shanksville, Somerset County, along the way, and then continuing westward, arriving at the San Francisco Airport at about the same time Sept. 11 that the original flight would have landed eight years ago.
"It's the first time all of us will be together and, in a sense, celebrate his life," Nacke's cousin, Patrick White, said.
"It's bittersweet. We've had months if not years to plan and prepare for this. They had 40 minutes to figure things out and they conducted themselves in a way that saved lives. Everything else we're asked to do is a piece of cake."
White will drive one of two trucks provided by U-Haul in a mostly motorcycle caravan that will include a core group of him, Nacke's brothers, Ken and Dave, Ken's wife, Marcy, and the husband of a flight attendant on Flight 93 and his friends.
White's truck is large enough to hold the traveling temporary memorial, which is a part of the memorial now at the crash site. People who might otherwise not get to see that memorial will be able to add to it, and it will eventually be kept in the visitors' center of the permanent memorial.
The other truck is for the group's luggage. They will stay at hotels across the country, many of which donated rooms or offered discounts to them.
Riders will join the group for different distances along the travel route, which is being updated every 10 minutes on the group's Web site, www.ridewiththe40.org.
In addition to bringing part of the temporary memorial to people across the country and raise awareness of the heroes of Flight 93, the group hopes to raise $250,000, or about $93 per mile of their more than 3,000-mile trek.
"All the money that is raised through the Web site goes to the memorial," Ken Nacke said. "Whether it's a dollar or $10,000, 100 percent goes to the memorial."
Joey Nacke was the oldest of four children. The family frequently took road trips, a tradition that will play an important part in this journey, Ken Nacke said.
"Every time we moved, we went exploring," he said. "It was not uncommon for us to trek out and see what new things we could get into as kids. We always talked about going out and seeing what adventures lie ahead of us. This is a way of completing things we set out on as kids."
The ride is all about the 40 heroes, the group emphasized.
"We're paying tribute to them," Ken Nacke said.
The group is looking forward to events planned at towns across the country and said they hope to see a lot of people along the way.
"Come say hi, beep, cheer for us," Ken Nacke said. "We're riding with, not for the 40. They're riding with us. We're completing their journey."
Mirror Staff Writer Wendy McCardle is at 946-7520.