The University of Minnesota will mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with a ceremony during the Gopher football game on September 10 to honor the three known alumni who died and three who survived. (Other commemorative events are being planned but details were not available at press time. Check back at UMNAlumni.org.)
Those being honored posthumously are Clarin Schwartz (J.D. '73), Gary Koecheler (J.D. '72), and Tom Burnett Jr. (B.S.B. '86). Burnett died trying to wrest control of Flight 93 from the hijackers in order to prevent it from hitting another target-likely the U.S. Capitol or White House. The plane crashed into an open field in rural Pennsylvania, killing all on board. His family has established the Tom Burnett Family Foundation, which funds a scholarship for Carlson School students and the Tom Burnett Advanced Leadership Program, among other programs. Members of the family will be in attendance.
Survivors Scott Wallace (B.S.B. '80), Terry Placek (B.A. '68), and Mark Lewis (B.S.B. '71, M.B.A. '79) will also be present.
Wallace, a Twin Cities-based financial executive, was in New York for meetings on the 63rd floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower when the first plane hit. He and others made their way to the stairwell and 45 hair-raising minutes later emerged onto the street. "I can tell you that a day does not pass that I don't think of what happened, the impact it has had on our country, and most importantly the impact it has had on my family," Wallace says. Wallace serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Lewis and Placek, both retired, worked for the Department of the Army and were in the Pentagon when the plane hit. Placek and colleagues were walking out of the building to catch the subway when people started running toward them. "We had no idea what was going on," she says. "It wasn't until we got out of the building and looked south that we saw all the black smoke." Placek ended up walking 3 miles home, where the first thing she did was call her dad in Minnesota to let him know she was OK.
The experience, Placek says, "made me even more grateful for my family, and I'm very lucky because I have a very close family and dear friends. I had calls from all over the world making sure I was OK. It made me even more patriotic."