Mark Anderson stands with this "rolling memorial" in tribute to those killed at the World Trade Center one year ago.
Owner-operator and OOIDA member Mark Anderson has been driving his tractor-trailer down America's highways for the past year as a rolling memorial for those killed Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City.
Like many Americans, Mark watched television in disbelief that morning. When the towers vanished from the screen, Mark anguished over those who lost their lives and how a war had been waged on his country's own soil.
Since that day, the Greenville, TN, trucker has waged his own campaign to help ensure the country stays strong. It's the same thing he's been doing for the last 18 years: driving truck across the country.
As Mark has crossed the nation the past year, he's seen American flags flying proudly from vehicle antennas and windows. He's seen countless patriotic images everywhere he goes.
Mark doesn't consider himself anymore patriotic than the next person but he did have a white trailer that turned out to be a pretty handy -- although quite large -- notepad to jot down words of support and remembrance for those affected that day.
In October 2001, Mark's son and stepdaughter suggested he spruce up his trailer. "They suggested I start letting people sign the trailer in tribute to those who died on 9/11," he said. "They were the first two signatures I had. It was as simple as that."
Since then, he's added an image of Old Glory to each side of his trailer. A short time later, he added a message to the back of his trailer. It reads: "A rolling memorial dedicated to those who suffered during the tragedy of 9-11-01." Mark says that's when the honks started.
"Oh, I've had people come down the road, blow their horn at me, wave and give me the thumbs up. I've had a real good response."
During one trip to Bristol, VA, the factory he was delivering to shut down and let their employees go outside and sign the trailer. Since last fall he's accumulated more than 3,000 signatures, patriotic messages and words of sympathy while stopped at truckstops or loading/unloading.
"I've actually had people sit there and read it and cry. It's not to bring back the pain, it's just to let everybody know we can be united through anything and that we should stay united no matter what happens."
This fall he plans to add a clear coat finish to the trailer to preserve the thousands of messages and signatures. Eventually, he would like to add the names of the World Trade Center victims - as a lasting remembrance.
"The trailer is just one way that people have shown for the last year they're going to stick together," he says. "It's been a terrific experience."
--Keith Goble, staff writer