The scene on lower Main Street on Saturday was one of respect for the fallen.
One of reflection. One of patriotism.
The crowd of Parkites, including leaders and emergency responders, gathered to glimpse and to touch an artifact salvaged from the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks. The artifact, a 4.5-ton piece of concrete aggregate that was embedded seven stories below the ground, stopped in Park City on a statewide tour before it is incorporated into a memorial park honoring the state's fallen warriors. The park is under construction at the Fort Douglas Military Museum at the University of Utah. A group called the Utah Fallen Warriors organized the tour.
With a giant American flag as the backdrop, the crowd listened to local leaders like Mayor Dana Williams, Summit County Councilor Chris Robinson and Paul Hewitt, the chief of the Park City Fire District. The mayor spoke about a reawakening of support for first responders after Sept. 11 while Robinson, using references to the Old Testament, told the crowd the day is recalled with detail. He called the artifact a "stone of hope." Hewitt remembered speaking to his young daughter about Sept. 11 and said firefighters understand they could someday risk their lives for strangers.
Raette Belcher, a Silver Summit resident who is the chairperson of the Utah Fallen Warriors, honored the state's military past and spoke about her interest in the project after meeting mothers who had lost children in the service.
It was an unexpected appearance by a retired New York City police sergeant, though, that awed the crowd. Scott Zink, a Bear Hollow resident who moved to the Park City area in July, recounted, in great detail, responding to the attacks. He spoke of the sacrifice. His police unit lost 14 officers, "14 of my close friends," Zink said.
Zink, assigned to the department's Emergency Service Unit, worked an overnight shift, starting at 10:30 p.m., the night before the attacks.
"I called my wife, said, "Laura, wake up, turn the TV on. I don't know when I'm coming home. I'll keep you informed during the day," he said.
Traffic lanes were closed to vehicles except emergency responders. Zink was heading toward Manhattan from Staten Island, paralleling New York Harbor. He watched as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.
"All of a sudden I hear my partner go, 'Oh my god,' and I look over, coming across the harbor, a few hundred feet above, is an airliner," he said, adding, "At first, I was in complete denial. How could two pilots make that mistake? It just couldn't be."
Zink realized the crashes were not accidental, saying he believed them to be a terrorist attack. He considered the idea that the New York City tunnels could be a target, a place to put a car bomb meant for the emergency responders. The Brooklyn Bridge, too, could be a target.
"Were they hitting Wall Street next? Were they hitting Midtown? Were they going into Williamsburg," he said.
Zink reached the World Trade Center and wanted to go inside with rescue gear to help with the efforts in the building. Another sergeant advised him not to. Assigned instead to provide security, he retrieved a bulletproof vest and a machine gun to serve as protection for the mayor, the police commissioner and the fire commissioner as well as other emergency responders. The advice from the other sergeant saved his life, Zink said. He watched as the top of the first tower to fall tilted and then collapsed. Zink turned and ran.
"There was an underground garage behind me. I turn around and run as fast as I can. I don't get more than four or five steps and I'm totally blind, can't see a thing, covered in dust . . . ," he said, telling the crowd he then saw a firefighter bloodied and covered in dust. "Oh, man, this guy looks bad. And I realize that I looked exactly like him. We're covered in dust, we have debris. Neither one of us can breathe."
He returned to the command post, reorganized and prepared to head into the other tower. It collapsed as his team approached. He was unable to outrun the cloud of dust and debris. Zink, wearing breathing equipment, dove under a truck.
He remembered the silence afterward, broken by the alarms firefighters wear on their packs. The alarms are triggered when the firefighters wearing them stop moving.
"There were hundreds of them going off, and that's all we heard. It was horrific," he said.
He worked 18-hour days, every day, for three weeks after Sept. 11 even as he realized survivors would not be found. Zink told the crowd not to forget that day.
"The policemen, the firemen. The ones that are here. The ones in New York. They will sacrifice, unselfishly, for you. Don't forget that, OK," he said. "This is what they do. This is what we do. It's not because we get a dollar. Not because we get paid, OK. This is what we do."