PLEASANTON -- Dan Alon will never know why the terrorists skipped his room in the Munich Olympic Village only to massacre his fellow athletes in the two adjacent ones.
And for more than three decades, the former Israeli fencer did not discuss the 1972 games, where the Palestinian terrorist group Black September slayed 11 of his countrymen. He kept his anger bottled inside.
"I felt bad," he said in a telephone interview from his Tel Aviv home. "I didn't want to open all the wounds again."
The wounds may never heal, but Alon said he now feels compelled to tell his story. He will make his first Bay Area appearance in Pleasanton on Thursday, March 27 at a program organized by Chabad of the Tri-Valley with support from the Jewish Federation of the East Bay.
Rabbi Raleigh Resnick said this is the sixth year Chabad will hold a lecture intended to benefit the broader community. Past speakers have included Holocaust survivors, most recently the posthumous stepsister of Anne Frank, Eva Schloss.
Resnick said the topic is still prescient because the International Olympic Committee declined to acknowledge the Munich Massacre at the 40th anniversary of the games in 2012, despite pressure from some countries including the United States.
"There was complete apathy towards the entire event in what is really the only time for the world to be together," he said. "I feel this is a little way of reliving and remembering this event."
Alon was 27 years old when he made the Olympic fencing team. In his book, "Munich Massacre: Dan Alon's Untold Story of a Survivor," co-authored with Carla Stockton and published as an electronic book in 2012, he discusses the euphoria he felt at the opening ceremonies representing his country.
The elation quickly turned to horror after he awoke to the sound of gunfire and witnessed one of his cohorts die outside his apartment window. The incident changed his life forever and he said to this day he still never feels truly safe.
After Munich, Alon gave up fencing and went on to work in the industrial business. Now retired, he golfs often and enjoys the company of his three children and one grandchild.
Alon broke his silence following the release of Steven Spielberg's "Munich" in 2005. He encounters a lot of surprise and lack of awareness when he recounts the story.
"Many youngsters, they don't know anything about it," he said. "And they don't know exactly what happened because in most of the movies, they don't show what happened to the survivors." He first spoke at Oxford and Yale universities at the request of the Chabad rabbis there. At Yale, his wife and daughter heard the full story for the first time.
Despite several subsequent appearances -- the majority outside Israel -- Alon said it is still difficult emotionally to discuss it on each occasion. There are times where his words are stuck in his throat, he admits, but presses on from a sense of duty.
"I feel now like a messenger," he said. "I feel it's really important because it's a piece of history that we don't want to forget about."