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TUNNEL TO TOWERS FOUNDATION ‘Never Forget Walk’ passes through Lehigh Valley

COURTESY TUNNEL TO TOWERS FOUNDATION

Special to The Press

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 received word over his scanner that a plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

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.

He 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 on 60 pounds of gear and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he gave his life while saving others.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was formed to honor Siller who laid down his life to save others on 9/11.

Also honored are the military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, 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 was the “Never Forget Walk,” during which foundation Chairman and CEO Frank Siller, an uncompensated volunteer and brother of Stephen Siller, is traveling on foot more than 500 miles from the Pentagon to Shanksville, Somerset County, and then to New York City.

The walk started on 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.

His route also included stops in Winchester, Va., Cumberland, Md., Hershey, Cetronia Fire Department, Allentown, Easton, Morristown, N.J., and Staten Island, N.Y.

On Aug. 31, Frank Siller traveled through Cetronia, Allentown and Bethlehem, and stopped in Easton Sept. 4 for a parade and barbecue.

For 42 days this summer, he 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 this 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 more than 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 this 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, of the LI Herald on Aug. 12, Frank Siller said the following:

“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.”

PRESS PHOTOS COURTESY TUNNEL TO TOWERS FOUNDATION Tunnel to Towers Foundation Chairman and CEO Frank Siller stands with Lehigh County Sheriff Joe Hanna and members of the Lehigh County Sheriff's Office outside the Lehigh County Courthouse on Aug. 31.
Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller, 34, is remembered for strapping 60 pounds of gear to his back and racing on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, where he gave up his life while saving others.
Tunnel to Towers Foundation Chairman and CEO Frank Siller stands with Bethlehem firefighters Lt. Steve Smola, Ed Caulfield and Lou Jimenez while passing through Bethlehem Aug. 31.
Allentown Police officers stand with (left) Tunnel to Towers Foundation Chairman and CEO Frank Siller as he walked through Allentown.
Lehigh County Deputy Sheriff Robert Rosado, Capt. Dean Schwartz, Frank Siller, CEO Tunnel to Towers, Deputy Michelle Pagan and Sheriff Joe Hanna took time for a photo at the Cetronia Fire Company.