Video: Frank Siller completes 500-mile 'Never Forget Walk' on Sept. 11
Siller, whose FDNY brother was killed on 9/11, walked from the Pentagon to Ground Zero through six states in six weeks to honor first responders
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The 537-mile walk and its tribute to all those lost in 9/11 — especially his younger brother — is one Frank Siller will never forget.
Dubbed the "Never Forget Walk" from Washington, D.C., to Manhattan, Siller, Tunnel to Towers chief executive officer, culminated his somber journey at Ground Zero on the 20th anniversary of the deadly attacks on the World Trade Center.
Siller made a 537-mile walk from the Pentagon to Ground Zero through six states in six weeks to honor and support first responders and their families.
After a stop on Thursday at his home parish, Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church, West Brighton, and another in Fort Wadsworth for a homecoming barbecue on Friday, Siller completed his journey with a walk through the Hugh Carey (Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnel.
That leg of the journey retraced the footsteps of his late brother, Stephen, an off-duty firefighter who valiantly ran through the tunnel in 2001 and ultimately lost his life as he responded to the World Trade Center attacks.
"All I was thinking about was my brother, of course," said Siller of his walk through the tunnel on Saturday.
"I mean who does what he did? Right? Throws his gear on his back and runs through that tunnel, and I'll tell you, I was walking through there with my family, who I love so much, and I was thinking of his face so vividly and his bald head and his smile. And I'll tell you, I know he was running there and he had one thing in his mind: to help and to save. And he gave it all that day.," added Siller as he made the poignant journey on Saturday with a team of family, friends and supporters behind him.
Stephen Siller was one of 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.
"And firefighters, we lost 343 firefighters that day, each of their names are right along this wall," Siller told the Advance/SILive.com about his journey. "And we lost over 60 police officers. They gave their life that day. We lost 2,977, but all those first responders gave their life by running into that building and saving over 20,000 people. And my brother was a part of that, and he'll always be remembered as the firefighter who ran through the tunnel and gave up his life to help others."
Since then, Siller and his siblings have built the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which has grown from a grassroots local organization to a national effort that makes sure heroic sacrifices by firefighters and police officers, as well as members of the U.S. military, are rewarded. In 2011 Siller made an announcement that the foundation would build a smart home for every "catastrophically injured service member."
Over the years, the foundation has built more than 100 smart homes for severely injured U.S. military members.
"When somebody goes to serve our country, or our communities, and they give their kids a kiss goodbye, and they don't come home, we're going to take care of the families left behind," said Siller. "We're going to deliver them a mortgage-free home, or we're going to pay off their mortgage if they have a home."
"I think it's because everyone's spirits have carried me, especially my brother Stephen's spirit," Siller told the Advance/SILive.com last month as he walked through the hills of Pennsylvania as part of the Never Forget Walk.
Throughout the walk, Siller has been encouraging Americans to "never forget" the sacrifices of the nearly 3,000 Americans murdered by the events of 9/11 — including his brother. His second goal is to encourage 1 million supporters to sign on to donate $11 a month to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
The ‘Never Forget Walk’: Honoring my brother’s final journey – and all our fallen heroes
Along the 500-mile trek from the Pentagon to Shanksville to New York City, I share Stephen’s story and the Tunnel to Towers message
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