By Teresa Varley
Ken Nacke will never forget. He will never forget the horrific events of September 11, 2001 when his morning on the Baltimore police force started out normal, but finished anything but.
He heard the heartbreaking news everyone heard, that two planes went into the World Trade Center. He heard about one hitting the Pentagon. And then he heard about Flight 93 going down in Shanksville, Pa.
And then his phone rang and the news was not good. His older brother Louis "Joey" Nacke, the one he looked up to and admired and loved, was on Flight 93.
Since then Nacke, along with other family members of those lost on Flight 93, has been on a mission to have a memorial built to honor those who sacrificed their own lives in order to save others that day.
His dream got a major boost this week when former Steelers running back Rocky Bleier announced that he, along with Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis and Art Rooney, II, will co-host the "9/11 We Will Never Forget" Dinner at Heinz Field on Friday, Sept. 11.
The dinner is being held in conjunction with the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign and the National Park Foundation to help continue to raise funds for the memorial.
The idea for the dinner generated with Bleier, trying to tie in the Steelers season-opener against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 10 at Heinz Field with a way to honor those on Flight 93 as well as the military. A Steelers Alumni Golf Outing will be held on the morning of Friday, Sept.11 to benefit Golf Supports Our Troops.
The "9/11 We Will Never Forget" Dinner will be held Friday evening and will include special appearances by General Tommy Franks and former Governor Tom Ridge, the Honorary Campaign Chairman of the Flight 93 National Memorial.
"When you go to the memorials in Washington, D.C., the most significant is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial because they have names and there is an identity with that," said Bleier, who served in Vietnam. "That is what we need to establish with this. That it's individual people; there are families that are still hurting. It's not just a monument, but it's about people who have given their lives."
Having the Steelers involved is something that Nacke marvels at, especially knowing that his brother was a diehard Steelers fan.
"For me and my family it's amazing," said Nacke. "We lived in the Pittsburgh area for a while. One of the first pro football games I saw with Joey was at Three Rivers Stadium, seeing the Steelers with my dad. It's very moving for me to know something near and dear to him, was this area and the pro sports teams. To have the support of Rocky Bleier, Franco Harris and the Steelers it's heartwarming. The Steelers have taken in the families of Flight 93. I can't put the feelings into words, it's heartwarming."
Nacke shared the story about his brother wearing a No. 32 jersey when he played youth football because of his admiration for Harris, and that was not something lost on the Hall of Fame running back as he listened to the story.
"You hear a lot of stories and they connect us because it is so meaningful to this event," said Harris. "Knowing that a kid wore a jersey because of me; that he said wow, I look up to that guy, I really like that guy. Now it's reversed, where I say I look up to Joey. It's amazing how that circle goes around. That is what makes it special. We are connected in a very special way."
Tickets for the dinner and more information can be obtained by visiting www.honorflight93.org.