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'This Is Not Good. This Is Not Just An Accident': Remembering 9/11 Victim Dan Trant Of Westfield

Dan Trant, a Westfield, Massachusetts, native recognized for his basketball playing in high school and college, died 20 years ago on 9/11. Trant was 40, married with children, and worked as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Trant's older sister, Sally Trant, said her brother was drafted last, by the Boston Celtics, in the 1984 NBA draft. That year featured players Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.

Trat was picked in the 10th and final round.

"Dan Trant was last," Sally said, laughing. "But he did go to the camp and we went down and watched him practice with the Celtics and that was an amazing experience."

He didn’t make it to the NBA, but played professional basketball in Ireland and for the Springfield Fame, a short-lived team in western Massachusetts.

Dan Trant was known for his deception on the court.

"Nobody ever knew what he was thinking," Sally Trant said. "And the guys that played with him very quickly learned that like you always had to be ready because you never know...He wouldn't be looking at you and the ball would would be coming at you. That's what everybody came to see, was him doing all these crazy things. And he was an awesome three-point shooter."

A photo of Dan Trant with his young family.
Credit Submitted
A photo of Dan Trant with his young family.

After he stopped playing basketball, Dan Trant worked in the victim-witness program in the Hampden District Attorney's office.

Later, in the early 1990s, Sally Trant said her brother got a phone call from a friend he had gone to college with, with a job offer to come to New York and work on Wall Street.

"And he was like, 'I don't know anything about that.' And they were like, 'Don't worry about it. You can learn this.' So, they packed it up and moved to New York," she said.

Over the next six years, Dan Trant worked for several brokerage firms in the city before landing the Cantor Fitzgerald job in in 1997.

On September 11, 2001, Sally Trant said she had just arrived at her office for work, near Dulles airport outside Washington. It was just before 9 o'clock, and she discovered missed calls and voicemails from one of her brothers.

"And he said, 'Danny's building was hit by a plane.' And of course, at that time, everybody was thinking it was a small plane. That it was an accident," she said. "And so when I heard the second plane hit, and I called one of my brothers, and he said 'Yeah. This is not good. This is not just an accident.'"

In this photo from 2011, Dan Trant's sister, Sally Trant (left) poses with her mother Mary Trant, who died in February 2021.
Credit Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com
The Republican / masslive.com
In this photo from 2011, Dan Trant's sister, Sally Trant (left) poses with her mother Mary Trant, who died in February 2021.

She left work early that day, went home and waited for any word about brother. Later she learned Dan Trant had placed one phone call after the plane hit his tower.

"Dan had actually borrowed somebody's cellphone and called his wife," she said. "And so, that was kind of it."

The conversation was only a few seconds long and went something like: I love you, I love the kids, take care of my boys.

Nobody who was in Cantor Fitzgerald offices that morning survived the attack.

Not a hero, 'a guy who went to work one day'

The Trant family considers Westfield, Massachusetts, home, and that's where they come back to most years to mark the passing of Dan Trant.  Three Westfield residents of Irish descent died in the 9/11 attacks, and the families gather at the Sons of Erin.

A memorial in Westfield, Massachusetts, honoring the three 9/11 victims with ties to the city's Irish community.
Credit Sally Trant / Submitted
A memorial in Westfield, Massachusetts, honoring the three 9/11 victims with ties to the city's Irish community.

"The Irish club in Westfield built a memorial for the three kids and every year since they have had a memorial service on 9/11. Kind of a half-somber [event] and then half — you know, typical Irish people how we celebrate," Sally Trant laughed. "Every year when we come home it’s just like it used to be. It's all our friends and neighbors that we grew up with."

In the years since Dan Trant died, Sally Trant said she has made time to volunteer with a number of organizations, including the Patriot Guard Riders, Homes For Our Troops and Soldiers' Angels.

It's that respect for the military that she mentioned when asked whether this anniversary will be different for her, given the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

"People will say, like, 'Oh, your brother was a hero.’ And it's like, No, he wasn't," Sally Trant said. "My brother was a guy who went to work one day, and our country was attacked. I say the kids that are heroes are these kids that are going over there and fighting for this country and coming back…so…changed.  That, you know, it's just, every day to me...it's just horrible."

Choking up a little, Sally Trant said she is "so glad" the troops are "getting home finally."

"I know there's all kinds of politics behind it, and to me, that has nothing to do with it," she said. "In my eyes, I'm just glad that the kids are home. It's just hard. I think it always will be, you know, it's going to be like Vietnam. It's never going to end. These kids are always going to have issues."

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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