Frank Siller has been honoring the legacy of his brother Stephen, a New York City firefighter killed on Sept. 11, for 20 years through the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. His organization is well known for efforts and programs that support the military, first responders, and their families.
This year, to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, Siller is going several steps further — literally. In August, he embarked on the Never Forget Walk, a 500-mile journey across six states to honor victims of 9/11. We caught up with him before he began his trek.
Why did you decide to do this walk?
I wanted to do something different for the 20th anniversary and to shed a big light on what happened 20 years ago. My hope is that through this walk, 100,000 or 200,000 people join me on this journey, not walking, but by donating $11 a month. If they do that, we will be on our way to take care of all of these families, not just this year but every year.
Where will your route take you?
I will start at the Pentagon and from there walk to Shanksville and then onward to Ground Zero.
How did you prepare for such a tough trek?
I have been walking anywhere from 10-15 miles a day for the past year. So I am prepared. It’s one step at a time, and knowing what my brother did 20 years ago, running through a tunnel that was 2 miles long with 20 pounds of gear on his back, and then up West Street and into the South Tower and up those stairs to save someone, this is the least I could do.
Will anyone join you along the way?
The first day I will be walking with over 400 first responders that represent over 400 first responders that died on 9/11. Gold Star families will be joining me. It’s going to be a whole array of people but all great Americans.
How will this journey end?
On Sept. 11 I will be walking my brother’s final heroic footsteps. I’ll be going through the same tunnel that he ran through. I am very excited but very emotional.