By Starrla Cray
WINSTED What if you could talk to two firefighters who were on the scene after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks?
What if you could see steel beams from the World Trade Center towers, and hear recordings from first responder radio transmissions?
People who visit Winsted the second weekend in August will get an opportunity to do all of that and more.
The 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit is coming to town, and will be open for free public tours from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 12.
The mobile exhibit is a 53-foot tractor-trailer that transforms into a 1,000-square-foot memorial. It now travels around the country, educating citizens about the tragic events of 9/11.
“I hope a lot of kids go through the exhibit,” Winsted resident Tom Ollig said.
Ollig first heard about the traveling memorial from his daughter and son-in-law who live in Jesup, IA. The tractor-trailer visited their community last summer, and Ollig’s daughter sent him a video of it.
“She said it was very, very moving,” Ollig recalled.
Ollig immediately thought about Winsted, and wanted people in this area to have that experience, too. He contacted the city clerk in Jesup for details, and was put in contact with the exhibit coordinators.
A few months ago, Ollig received word that the truck would be able to travel to Winsted for the summer festival.
“My understanding is that this will be the second time it has come to Minnesota,” Ollig said.
Fundraising efforts are currently underway, and are being organized by the Winsted Summer Festival, the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Winsted Volunteer Fire Department. Including the costs of the exhibit, hotel rooms, marketing and miscellaneous expenses, a total of $20,000 is needed.
Donation checks can be made out to the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce. Call President Jeff Campbell at (612) 554-7439 for more information.
How it started
The 9/11 mobile exhibit was created in 2013 by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, as a tribute to all those who lost their lives on 9/11.
Stephen Siller was a New York firefighter who gave up his life saving others after the terrorist attacks. Siller, 34, had a wife, five children, and a close network of other family members and friends.
In addition to the 9/11 mobile exhibit, the foundation in Siller’s memory has several other programs.
One is called Building for America’s Bravest, and it involves constructing mortgage-free homes for catastrophically injured service members. Each home is custom-designed to meet the needs of the recipient, whether it’s special showers to accommodate wheelchairs, automated doors and lighting, or height-adjustable stove tops.
To learn more about the foundation, follow the link at www.herald-journal.com.
How to donate
Donation checks to bring the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit to the 2018 Winsted Summer Festival can be made out to the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce. This is a non-profit organization, and donations are tax-deductible. Individuals, businesses, or organizations that are able to donate $2,000 or more will receive a private viewing of the exhibit for up to 20 people prior to it being opened to the general public. For more information, contact Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Campbell at (612) 554-7439.
• Nineteen men hijacked four American commercial airplanes on the East Coast September 11, 2001.
• Two of the planes crashed into the World Trade Center’s north and south towers. The third crashed into the Pentagon. Passengers of the fourth plane prevented another attack, and the plane instead crashed in the countryside of Pennsylvania.
• A total of 2,977 people were reported to have died from the 9/11 attacks.
• The injury count has not been finalized, as more cases continue to be reported since 9/11. As of 2015, more than 9,000 people were approved for compensation of medical bills and other expenses. More than 2,500 of the approved cases were cancer-related.
(Sources: The Encyclopedia Brittanica and a Sept. 9, 2015 article from CNN)