Healing with others: Minnesota, western Wisconsin crowd gathers to mark Sept. 11 anniversary
Paul Rode stood alone on an interstate bridge holding a U.S. flag on Sept. 11, his own impromptu response to the terrorist attacks.
Rode was back on an interstate overpass Sunday, joined by perhaps a couple hundred people marking the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
"People got to heal," Rode said at the close of a memorial event on Stagecoach Trail over Interstate 94 in West Lakeland Township.
The large crowd gathered on the bridge Sunday morning waved U.S. flags as vehicles honked from the interstate. Shortly before 10 a.m., more than a dozen fire trucks and ambulances from area cities left Hudson and traveled west on I-94, passing beneath the crowd gathered on Stagecoach Trail before looping back on Hudson Road in Woodbury and driving by the crowd. Fire trucks from Hudson, Cottage Grove, New Richmond, Woodbury, Newport, Bayport and other communities blared their sirens as people cheered.
Kelli Cadwell of Woodbury was attending the memorial for the first time. She said she had a "yearning" to mark the 15th anniversary that way.
"I didn't think it was going to feel this spiritual," she said.
Rode, who owns Agave Kitchen in Hudson, said he tells people to come out to the event each Sept. 11 anniversary as a way to heal. They picked Stagecoach Trail for its proximity to the interstate and because there is space for people to safely gather.
"It just grows every year," he said.