Trucker helps drivers remember 9/11

John Holmgren

On the straight-aways and backroads of America, at loading docks and shopping malls, 39-year-old Minnesotan John Holmgren isn't just driving a truck. He's driving home a message.

"It seemed to me like people were forgetting 9/11," he says.

So he dipped into his own pocket to decorate his 18-wheeler: With a hand-painted fireman and his ash-covered face; with Old Glory, cascading; and with 3,168 names of people who perished on 9/11.

It's a rolling memorial that makes people stop, stare and whip out their cameras.

"Unbelievable," says admirer Terry Tate. "It puts chill bumps all over me, just thinking about it."

Some stand, quietly, while others — like Vivien Pesante and her three children — weep.

"Daddy's friend died at the towers, yes," she tells her kids. "So yeah, it is very personal."

It's personal too, for truckers who salute Holmgren on the road.

"I'd like to compliment you on your truck. Does look good," says one man to Holmgren over the CB radio.

Although some reactions can pose a hazard.

"I know people are lots of times pulling up next to me and looking. I have to watch that they're OK and they're paying attention so they don't have an accident!" says Holmgren.

When he does stop, they sometimes buy miniatures and they always say thank you.

Holmgren got the idea listening to Darryl Worley sing his country hit, "Have You Forgotten?" He's turned that message into a crusade.

"It's just my way of respecting the families, and it turned out to be so much more," says Holmgren.

It's a way for all of us to remember and respect, always.