“It's one of the most beautiful paint schemes (on a truck) I've ever seen. It really tells a story,” said Fort Wayne Auto Truck Auction co-owner Paul Beerman, who has seen thousands of vehicles come and go since the company was founded in 1984 but has never seen anything quite like the so-called “Truck of Honor” created by Bo Trout of Tecumseh, Mich.
“I did it for the fifth anniversary of 9/11. I got a call from the Chicago Fire Department, which wanted an escort to Ground Zero (in New York City),” explained Trout, who owns Bogie's Express and had painted some of his other trucks to honor veterans but had never before attempted anything so “intense.”
And the airbrushed artwork by Jim Shivey of Piqua, Ohio, does evoke memories, from the names of the fallen New York police officers and firefighters behind the cab to images of soldiers and combat to the faces of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani the former President George W. Bush to the towers themselves.
Trout, who is also president of the National Association of Show Trucks, said he has displayed the truck at events throughout the country, sometimes for a fee and often for free. “Money's not why I did it,” Trout said. “People like tot look at it. They thank me.”
The sale of a 9/11-themed truck on 9/11 may or may not be coincidence, but the truck's prominent mention in ads for next week's event make it a potential marketing bonanza for Beerman's company, which is believed to have been the first stationary truck auction in the United States. Trout has done business with the company before, and he lives relatively close.
“It's tough (to sell the truck), but it's time. I'm looking at doing a new project,” explained Trout, whose company hauls mostly petroleum products and comes into regular contact with service members and veterans at airports and other venues. The new truck will probably bear a military theme as well, “but let my drivers decide (the details),” he said.
Trout would like to get about $85,000 for the 2007 Kenworth truck itself and $15,000 more for the 53-foot 2006 trailer, “but I don't need to sell (if the price isn't tight),” he said. The company stages a truck auction twice a month, with most of the 200 or so vehicles in each offered because of their high mileage, age or the financial needs of their owner. Bidders include “anybody who needs a truck,” Beerman said, but he expects the Truck of Honor to have special appeal – and maybe value – to anyone with a connection to the military.
The truck may or may not represent great art, and there may be those who consider it more exploitative than tributary. Even so, with America debating the wisdom and necessity of opening yet another front in the seemingly endless war on terror, the truck and its potential sale offer timely reminders of why and what we are fighting.
“When others came rushing out, they went rushing in,” reads the caption above the names of the police officers and firefighters who heroically died in the towers trying to save others 12 years ago Wednesday. Americans may not agree with everything that has happened since, or may happen in the future in Syria and elsewhere, but that should not diminish the bravery and heroism so frequently displayed on 9/11, or the American ideals they epitomized.
Whatever price Trout's truck brings – even if it doesn't sell at all – the honor it proclaims is real, priceless, and worth remembering even as 9/11 itself fades into history.
'Truck of Honor'What: truck auction
When: 10 a.m. Sept. 11
Where: Fort Wayne Auto Truck Auction, 3600 E. Washington Blvd.
Event is free and open to the public