I have to write about my experience this past Sunday in remembrance of that fateful day in New York and Washington D.C. Mobile sponsored a 5K run called the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run. When I read that you get to run through the Bankhead tunnel into downtown Mobile I was thrilled and signed up immediately. I knew that it was for a good cause, but it was running through the tunnel that really appealed to me. But then I heard the story.
Here it is:
By the time Stephen Siller was 10 years old, he had already lost both parents. Although he went through a period of struggle, because of the love of his siblings and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.
On September 11th, firefighter Stephen Siller had just gotten off the late shift at Squad 1, Park Slope, Brooklyn. He was on his way to play golf with his brothers on that bright clear day when his scanner told of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. When he heard the news, he called his wife Sally to tell her he would be late because he had to help those in need. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear, then took his final heroic steps to the World Trade Center. When Stephen drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, it was already closed to traffic . With sixty pounds of gear strapped to his back, he ran through the Tunnel, hoping to meet up with his own company, Squad 1.
Stephen was first and foremost a loving husband and father to five children. He was also a dedicated fireman, devoted brother, loyal friend and committed neighbor. His life brought great light to those around him.
He did not make it out alive, he gave his life to help others. As I ran through the tunnel I heard the hollers and whoops of others around me. I couldn't tell if they were doing it as a rally cheer, or if they were just as giddy as I initially was when I first found out I was going to be running the tunnel. But for me it was a very emotionally draining experience. I placed myself in Stephen Siller's place. Instantly I imagined it was me running to these towers, to help, and ultimately to my death. I thought of his family left behind, I can totally relate being a wife with 5 kids. Without warning I felt the flood gates open and I started crying while I was running. A part of me wanted to show my respect by embracing these feelings of remorse, the other part was forcing me to stop so I could BREATHE!
As I came out of the tunnel the fire department had their trucks set up so they could hang the American flag at the top of the tunnel. It really was an amazing run. I will never forget the lives that were lost or the sacrifices these brave men and women made, but I will always feel a closer bond with Stephen Siller and his family because of this run.
I am a SAHM of 5; Tobie, Miriam, Emma, Hannah and Charlotte. We live the military life through the Coast Guard. Semper Paratus! We love having the opportunity to explore this wonderful country of ours and make great new friends along the way.