Coming together on 9/11

Speaker shares his firsthand experience of 9/11 during Marshall ceremony

Photo by Deb Gau Guest speaker Dan Weck addressed an audience of Marshall area community members and schoolchildren gathered around the downtown 9/11 Memorial, as part of a program Monday.

MARSHALL — It was hard to talk about 9/11, Dan Weck said.

The terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had an impact on people all around the U.S., but especially for people who witnessed the attacks and their aftermath. Although it was tough to talk about, Weck said, he told area residents gathered at Memorial Park that it was important to remember that day, and the lives lost on it.

“Please, for me, for everyone, please never forget,” he said.

Weck was the guest speaker at a 9/11 memorial ceremony held Monday afternoon in Marshall. The ceremony drew area residents, school groups from Marshall, and area emergency responders.

Weck shared some of his experiences, as well as talking about how he came to know about the Marshall 9/11 memorial.

Although he lives in Minnesota now, Weck said, “On 9/11, I lived in New Jersey.” After planes struck the World Trade Center in 2001, Weck was among the responders who headed to the scene, and worked there “for many days” afterward. It was a difficult thing to experience, Weck said, and certain memories like sights and smells have stuck with him.

“It affected me in many ways,” he said.

Weck said he also lost friends in the attacks. During his talk, Weck told the story behind a New York Fire Department hockey jersey he brought with him. The jersey was a gift from one of the firefighters who would come to the bar where Weck worked. But the firefighter was one of the people who died while responding to the terror attacks in New York.

“Unfortunately, he never made it home,” Weck said.

Weck said when he first visited the 9/11 Memorial in Marshall, he brought the jersey with him. He met local firefighters, and later Marshall resident and city council member Craig Schafer. Schafer had also been to New York to learn from the post-9/11 cleanup and recovery efforts.

Both Weck and Schafer held a question-and-answer session after the memorial ceremony and fielded several questions from kids in local school groups. Many students were still young enough that they didn’t know much about the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Some students asked how the World Trade Center towers fell, or how terrorists were able to fly airplanes there.

“A lot of the things that you know as normal, weren’t normal before,” like extra security on airplanes, Schafer explained as he answered questions from students.

During the ceremony, speakers recognized firefighters, members of law enforcement and first responders for the work they do.

“There are people in a job that puts them in danger every day,” Weck said.

“Part of today is to remember, and part of it is to appreciate,” the efforts of emergency responders, said Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes.

Weck also asked people gathered at the memorial, especially young people, to remember the significance of 9/11 and the sacrifices made that day.

Between the local people and the memorial in Marshall, Weck said, “Marshall, Minnesota, has showed me that it will never forget.”