In 2001, David Brickley, then-director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, was coordinating a Mid-Atlantic governors conference on trailways, scheduled to take place two blocks from the Pentagon on Sept. 15. Despite the Sept. 11 attacks, the conference went on as planned, says Brickley ’65 Bus, who told the governors, “Let’s find a way to merge our love of greenways with this tragedy.”
That idea came to fruition with the 9/11 Trail, a 1,300-mile network of paths for cyclists, walkers, and runners that zigzags through six states and links the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 Memorial. Opened in 2002 through the nonprofit September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance (Brickley is its founder and president emeritus), the trail was finalized in 2015. It received federal designation last October that allows the National Park Service to help with its signage and promotion. The alliance worked with the District of Columbia and local governments along the route to define the trail.
“The trail honors those heroes of 9/11, the first responders, and those who lost their lives,” Brickley says. “The response from citizens and governments has been exciting, as we developed the actual route together.” Brickley, a lawyer, Vietnam veteran (and Bronze Star recipient), and Virginia state legislator from 1976 to 1998, also served as director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation from 1998 to 2002. In June, he cycled the entire 9/11 trail for the first time in a “loop of remembrance” that he sees as his reward for the years of work he’s put into the project. —Cristina Rouvalis