The brother of FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller of Rockville Centre, who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, began a nearly six-week, 537-mile journey Sunday from the Pentagon to the World Trade Center.
The 'Never Forget Walk' will take Frank Siller, chairman and chief executive of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, from the nation's Capitol through Virginia and Maryland, to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed, to New Jersey and into Manhattan before the 20th anniversary ceremony.
"This walk will remind our fellow Americans what happened 20 years ago, so they will tell their children what happened, and they can tell their children, so we keep our promise to never forget," Frank Siller, 68, said at a news conference Sunday at Arlington County Firehouse 5, which responded to the Pentagon on 9/11.
Stephen Siller, 34, was a firefighter assigned to Squad 1 in Park Slope, Brooklyn. He had just finished his tour on Sept., 11, 2001, and was heading home to Staten Island when he heard a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
When Siller found traffic blocked at the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, he strapped 60 pounds of gear on his back and ran nearly two miles through the tunnel toward the fire. His remains were never found.
The family created the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to honor Stephen's memory along with the 342 other FDNY firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers, and thousands of civilians who died in the attacks.
Frank Siller plans to walk 16 miles per day, with vehicles in front and behind him for safety, and will host parades for first responders along the route.
"You are carrying the memories of everyone on this journey," said Arlington County Fire Department Capt. Justin Tirellli. "That’s how we remember. That's how we move forward. That’s how we become better."
After the news conference, Siller and his team walked to the Arlington County Police Department to present them with a piece of steel from the World Trade Center. Foundation members then walked eight miles through Washington, D.C., where they donated a second piece of WTC steel to the district's Fire & EMS Training Academy.
On Monday, Siller continued his journey, walking through Arlington, Falls Church and Vienna, all in Virginia.