‘Never Forget Walk’ passes through Lehigh Valley
On Sept. 11, 2001, firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller, 34, who was assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got word over his scanner of a plane hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center. Upon hearing the news, Stephen Siller called his wife, Sally, and asked her to tell his brothers he would catch up with them later. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear.
Stephen Siller drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the twin towers, where he gave up his life while saving others.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was formed to honor the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller, who laid down his life to save others on Sept. 11, 2001. Also honored are the military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is hosting a number of events to honor all the innocent lives lost on that tragic day. One of these events is the “Never Forget Walk,” during which foundation Chairman and CEO Frank Siller, an uncompensated volunteer and brother of Stephen Siller, is traveling on foot over 500 miles from the Pentagon to Shanksville and then to New York City.
The walk started Aug. 1 in Washington, D.C. and will finish on the morning of Sept. 11 in New York City. Multiple parades and barbecues have been held along the route.
On Aug. 31, Frank Siller traveled through Allentown and Bethlehem and stopped in Easton on Sept. 4 for a parade and barbecue.
For 42 days this summer, Frank Siller will have walked more than 500 miles through six states.
For 20 years, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has honored Stephen Siller’s legacy. To mark its 20th anniversary, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has promised to deliver 200 mortgage-free homes to our nation’s heroes by the end of the year.
On Sept. 12, the foundation will read the names of all those who have died from 9/11 related illness at a public ceremony at ground zero.
On Veterans Day, the foundation will read each of the over 7,000 names of military personnel who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, at a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial.
The foundation’s In the Line of Duty Program provides mortgage-free homes to our nation’s catastrophically injured veterans and first responders and Gold Star and fallen first responder families with young children.
By the end of 2021, the foundation will have delivered 450 homes.
The foundation also pays off the mortgages for the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty with young children.
In 2021, Tunnel to Towers expanded the program to support the families of first responders who have lost their lives to 9/11 illnesses.
“Some good things happen that are terrible but we have a choice, and out of that choice is to do good for somebody else and that’s what makes it a lot better,” Frank Siller said in a recent interview in Hershey.
In an interview with Mike Smollins, Long Island Herald, on Aug. 12, Frank Siller said, “We lost 2,977 lives 20 years ago and there’s a lot of people in America forgetting about it, and they’re not telling their children. We need them to tell their children. We don’t want this to happen again. There are 7,000 families left behind from over 70,000 heroes. I think most Americans go about their day without even recognizing the sacrifices made by so many individuals and so many families.”