‘Never Forget Walk’ heads to World Trade Center site

Frank Siller speaks during a ceremony at the Arlington County Police Officer Memorial on Sunday. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

A New York man is honoring his brother who died in the 9/11 attacks by starting a more than 500-mile walk from Virginia to the World Trade Center site.

Frank Siller, Chairman and CEO of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, is doing the walk in honor of his brother Stephen who died responding to the attacks.

“The idea of the walk is to make sure we never forget what happened 20 years ago,” Frank told WTOP at one of his stops in Arlington.

He plans to finish his walk before the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Stephen was a firefighter with Brooklyn’s Squad 1 and had just finished a shift and was headed home when he heard over his scanner that a plane struck the World Trade Center.

Frank said his brother drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. So, he strapped 60 pounds of fire gear to his back and ran on foot through the tunnel to the World Trade Center Towers.

His body was never recovered.

Siller said during his journey, he will travel through the same tunnel his brother did on Sept. 11, and will make his way to the site of the World Trade Center.

“I will be bringing his spirit with me,” he said.

He attended a wreath-laying ceremony on Sunday with his family and those families who lost loved ones at the Pentagon on 9/11.

That is where he started his 537-mile walk, heading from there to the official “Never Forget Walk” kickoff ceremony at Arlington Fire Station 5. There, Siller was joined by more than 400 people to walk to the Arlington County Police Officer Memorial.

“It’s inspiring people care. You know, people really care,” he said.

It was there that the Tunnel to Towers Foundation donated a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center to be permanently displayed at the Arlington County Police Department.

The group then headed to the D.C. Armory where Siller and the group of walkers were met with a parade of motorcyclists.

At that ceremony, a piece of steel beam was also donated to D.C. Fire and EMS. That piece will be permanently displayed at the department’s training academy.

One of the other notable stops for Frank will be in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93, one of four aircraft hijacked in the Sept. 11 attacks, crashed.

He will be joined by others along his way, but he is the sole person making the entire 500-mile trek.

“We have some people carrying the American flag in the front in order to make sure that, first and foremost, we remember the country that we live in is a great country and it was a sacrifice that was made by these great Americans,” Siller said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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