Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Footsteps We Follow

To run is to live, everything else is just waiting.

- Mark Hanson

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 a New York City Firefighter whose passion was golf opted to do something that he did not typically do on a Tuesday morning.  He went for a run.   

He went for that particular run not because it was an easy thing to do.  He went for that run not because it was a prudent thing to do.  He went for that run because he, just like all of the men and women of the FDNY, NYPD and PAPD who wear the uniforms and carry the markings of their respective departments, was compelled to put the safety, the needs and the lives of all others above his own.  He went for that run because when you are programmed to do the right thing even in the face of danger, you do not stop to question the peril into which you are placing yourself.  You do that which needs to be done.

On that Tuesday morning eleven September 11ths ago, Steven Siller went for a run that took him from Brooklyn, through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and into Lower Manhattan.  He went for that run in spite of undoubtedly knowing that what awaited at the far end of that tunnel was not light but danger and, quite possibly, death.  That morning Steven Siller joined 342 of his brothers from the FDNY, 37 members of the PAPD and the 23 members of the NYPD who died at the World Trade Center saving the lives of countless thousands of people. 

Today is the Tunnel to Towers Run.  This morning it is my profound privilege and pleasure to be among the thousands of runners (and walkers) who shall line up on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and run the route that Steven Siller ran that Tuesday morning eleven years ago. 

On that terrible day, FF Siller died as did ten other members of his firehouse - Squad 1 in Brooklyn.  This morning, when we emerge from the Tunnel what shall greet us shall not be the images of chaos and despair that he undoubtedly saw that morning but, rather, images of strength and resolve.  Those qualities are embodied in the members of the FDNY - including those who were not yet on the job eleven years ago - who stand in dress uniform holding up the memorial photographs of the 343 who died that day.  Those qualities are embodied in the construction that is ongoing in Lower Manhattan including of course the building of the "new" World Trade Center, which continues to move closer and closer to completion with each passing September. 

Most of all, those qualities are embodied in the families of those who died that day and who participate in this event as a way of honoring a loved one lost and in trading that tragedy in for triumph, including of course the Siller Family and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation that they created.   

Eleven years ago on a Tuesday morning whose mark shall be left indelibly on the annals of recorded history, Steven Siller went for a run because it was the right thing to do.  This morning, thousands of people - most of whom never knew him and who he never knew - shall honor him and all of those lost that day by doing the very same thing.  And even though we are eleven years now further on up the road, his steps are easy to re-trace....

....all one has to do is follow his footsteps. 


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