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WIBX Series Marking The 10th Anniversary Of 9/11 – Part I

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Utica, NY (WIBX) - As the nation marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, WIBX is broadcasting a series of reports on the events that unfolded that fateful day when terrorists hijacked passenger jets and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and the hijacking and crash of flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

9/11 will forever be synonymous with terror. Like Pearl Harbor, the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC marked a generation of people, and forever changed the way Americans live their lives. Ten years later, the horror of that day is still fresh in our hearts and minds, especially for those who lost loved ones.

Frank Siller is one of those family members. He lost his brother, Stephen, a New York City Fire Fighter who rushed into the burning twin towers to safe the thousands trapped, after terrorists flew two passenger jets into the buildings. The youngest of seven children, Stephen Siller was the pride and joy of his family. “When Stephen was born, my dad was 49, my mom was 44, so he was like a gift from God from the very beginning. I was 14 years older than him so it was quite a surprise when Stephen came into this world–He became the very core of our family,” Frank said.

Unfortunately, the siblings lost both parents by the time Stephen was 10 years old. From then on his care was left in the hands of his older brothers. Frank said, “He became more like a son to us than a brother and all of us participated in bringing him up–it was a tough time in his life.” Frank says Stephen grew up appreciating the importance of life, something that led him to build a career with the FDNY. Married, and the father of 5 children, Stephen was living the life he’d always dreamed of.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Stephen was heading home after his night shift at Squad One in Brooklyn, an elite squad trained specifically to handle terrorism acts, when he heard about the attacks on his radio scanner. Stephen turned his truck around and rushed back to his Fire House and learned that his company was already at Ground Zero. He got his gear, drove to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel where he ran into road blocks and abandoned vehicles. He was faced with a decision. “Stephen strapped 65-pounds of gear to his back and ran through the tunnels to the towers where he gave up his life that day while saving others,” Frank said.

Stephen Siller was one of the 343 fire fighters killed that fatefull day. “That kind of a loss was…oh my…I can’t even…there’s no words to explain the pain that we felt when we knew that Stephen wasn’t coming home, and there’s just no getting over that.” To honor him and his selfless sacrafice, the Siller brothers formed a non-profit group called The Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation.

“For us as a family, we were so proud and so moved by what he did, that we wanted to make sure that we honored him every year, and that’s how we started the  Tunnel To Towers run, were we retrace Stephen’s final heroic foot steps every year, and we run through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to Ground Zero,” he said. Frank is the chairman of the Foundation. He says the organization provides financial assistance and support to fire fighters, burn centers, kids who’ve lost one or both parents, as well as military personell.

He added, “And for the severely wounded soldiers, there are three quadruple amputees that have survived the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–we’re building homes for them, and we’re building five other homes for other ones besides. So, we’ve learned that through this, some good can come out of it. We must not ever forget the sacrifice that’s being made by our men and women in uniform and by our First Responders and so as a foundation in honor of Stephen, in honor of what he did that day, in honor of all First Resonders that day, we have tried to turn it around a little bit, and do some good out of something that was so evil.” This year the Siller family plans to make their annual visit to Ground Zero to pay their respect to all the victims of 9/11 and to remember their brother, husband and father, Stephen Siller.

To learn more about the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation visit the organizations website at, www.tunneltotowersrun.org.

Foundation officials released the following poem to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks that claimed the lives of so many, including their family member, Stephen Siller.

Ten Years Have Passed Since 9/11

Ten years have past from nine eleven,

Ten years since Stephen went on to heaven.

Our family has stayed strong from those days of the dust.

There has been plenty of sorrow , too much pain for all of us.

No one would believe what we have done in his name,

but none of it seems worth it just the same.

You can’t love a brother more then we loved Stephen,

There is no rhyme and there ain’t no good reason.

Why did God take him from us that way,

It’s just too high a price to pay.

Our wonder boy, our special gift from God,

taken from us in a moment, was it all a cruel lie.

No one could know the real emptiness and loss,

but how could you, never meeting Stephen ,of course.

His wife remains a steady force,as solid as an oak tree,

keeping his five children in line and remainig a family.

I could never image how she holds it all together,

must be God’s helping hand reaching down from heaven.

My sisters and brothers who brought him up since age ten,

our parents having passed away,left Stephen in our hands.

We did our best to help him to become a good person, a real man,

He grew to amaze us all with his love of life, family and friends.

So on September eleventh when the world was in shock,

he ran to the towers to save souls like a minister for his flock.

Ten years have passed from nine eleven,

Ten years since Stephen went on to heaven.

We are doing our best the honor his legacy of love,

We asked for the guidance and strength from above.

No one would believe what we did in his name,

but none of it seems worth it just the same.

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