The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is hosting a 36-day walk to honor service members who have sacrificed their lives in the post-9/11 wars, as well as the reading of their names at the Lincoln Memorial this Veterans Day, its Chief Executive Officer Frank Siller said Saturday.
The Never Forget Walk will begin at the Pentagon, go through Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and end at Ground Zero in New York City, New York — sites that were all attacked by terrorists 20 years ago on September 11, 2001.
Siller — who lost his youngest brother Stephen, a New York City firefighter on 9/11 — plans to make the walk himself, he told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday.
“I’ll be walking from the Pentagon to Shanksville to Ground Zero because I wanted to do something very meaningful. Everything we try to do at the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has great meaning and what better way to commemorate the 20th year than to go to all three locations where we had such great loss of life,” he told host Breitbart News’ Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle.
“It’s to honor and make sure that we never forget what happened on September 11, 2001. My brother was a New York City firefighter who ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel with 60 pounds of gear on his back and gave up his life like so many others that day. So we want to shed and put a big light on September 11, especially since it’s the 20th year, so I personally and many different people will be joining me,” he said.
Siller’s brother Stephen had just finished his shift with the New York City Fire Department’s Squad 1 in Brooklyn when he heard over his radio scanner what happened. He was planning to play golf with his older brothers Russ, George, and Frank.
“The four brothers were going to play golf but he heard on his radio scanner what happened. So you know what our first responders do, they respond. They don’t run away from danger, they go towards it. Same thing with our military. So that’s exactly what he did. He went back to his firehouse, got his gear,” he said,
“He was the youngest of 7, he was my little brother, we were much older than him, my parents died when he was a little boy, we raised him, he ended up getting married, he had five beautiful children, and he makes this tremendous sacrifice for his community and his country and so we started the Tunnel to Towers Foundation in his honor, and for all those who perished that day,” he said.
The Never Forget Walk will begin on August 1, 2021, and end September 11, 2021.
“We’re going to have thousands of people join us…I’m doing 15 miles a day, there’s going to be approximately 36 walking days. I’m coming in on September 11th, on the 20th anniversary. I’ll be walking through that tunnel, as the sun rises I will be coming through to lay a wreath at firehouses right by, adjacent to Ground Zero,” he said.
“You can join me for one mile, five miles, 10 miles, 15 miles, or whatever you choose to go,” he said.
In addition, the foundation is hosting the first-ever reading of the 7,059 names of those fallen in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and featuring their pictures on banners, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Veterans Day.
“I don’t believe anyone has done that before, and I wish we had done before but we’re doing it now, and we are going to make sure those great souls are never forgotten,” Siller said, “It’s going to take approximately over eight hours to read all these names.”
The foundation announced the reading at a press conference at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, as reported by Breitbart News. Several Gold Star spouses, wounded warriors, and members of Congress were in attendance and expressed their gratitude for the foundation.
“The reading of the names means so much to my family and I because it is another way to keep my husband’s memory alive,” said Rebecca Briggs, wife of Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Dashan Briggs, who was killed on March 15, 2018, in a helicopter crash over the Iraq-Syrian border.
Siller told Boyle, “This is a way to say thank you to their families…for someone who’s served, it’s not just them, it’s the whole family that serves, and when somebody dies serving our country, the whole family pays the price and we go on our merry way — most Americans, and they don’t even think about it.”
He added, “Our country is born on liberty but those liberties have to be protected and they’re protected by our men and women in uniform. so we better never forget that.”
The foundation also builds mortgage-free smart homes for the most catastrophically-injured service members, and mortgage-free homes for Gold Star families, or help pay off their mortgages if they already have a home. The foundation also helps young families of first responders who die in the line of duty. It plans to help 200 families this year.
The foundation will also do a reading of the names of the fallen 9/11 first responders on September 12, 2021.
The foundation is taking volunteers for the events at t2t.org.