DES MOINES – For the second year in a row, a small group of dedicated community members set out from Waukee to the Iowa State Capitol Grounds. Their goal: to remember those lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 16 years ago.
“I remember exactly what I was doing, that day, that job that house in Waukee,” said Michael Dunkin, a firefighter for West Des Moines.
Dunkin geared up for a special 22 mile trek. He completed the whole thing, while wearing all of his firefighting equipment.
“9/11 was a huge deal and a part of why I wanted to become a firefighter,” said Dunkin.
One man he’s walking with has personal ties to the attacks in New York.
“My cousin was a firefighter in the second building and jumped from the 85th story,” said Robert Rasmussen. “And my brother was a New York cop in the first building.”
Rasmussen couldn’t do the walk last year, but this year he is, and he plans to do it every year moving forward.
“I just got this hat back from the New York fire station,” said Rasmussen. “They say they found it in my brother’s locker and they wanted me to wear it on this walk.”
The group stopped at a Des Moines station, which is led by district chief Ed Haase. Haase went to New York one year after the attacks for a firefighter memorial service.
“Nobody left,” he said about that day in 2002. “We stood in the rain—in our full uniforms—for six hours. We were there to honor those guys rain or snow, so we were going to hang out this thing. It was a pretty humbling experience.”
And as they walk together, they hope those who lost their lives are never forgotten.
“I don’t think the school systems or anyone else is going to let this die, it’s going to
be etched in history,” said Haase, who added he wants to return to New York some time to see all of the updates to Ground Zero.
The walk was much bigger than it was just a year ago. They’re encouraging people to join them for the walk next year, even if it’s just for a leg or two of the walk. They’ll be doing it rain or shine.
Rasmussen says he hasn’t made his way back to Ground Zero yet. He’s still not ready to see it up close, but he hopes to do it in a couple more years.