The man who inspired the construction of a 9/11 memorial in Marshall, Minn., has been named Citizen of the Year by a local Rotary club.

Craig Schafer, an emergency response specialist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, was honored by the Marshall Sunrise Rotary for securing a 10-foot, 600-pound steel beam from the fallen World Trade Center that later became the centerpiece of Marshall's 9/11 memorial park. The memorial was unveiled in September 2011, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Schafer plucked the beam from a Staten Island landfill in 2002 while inspecting the Trade Center ruins.

City officials estimate that thousands of visitors have stopped at the park over the past year to pay respects to the nearly 3,000 firefighters, police officers and civilians killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Schafer, who also volunteers with the local American Red Cross chapter, said the Rotary honor "just kind of reaffirms the special feeling" he has for the city of Marshall.