911 Mobile Exhibit Helps Us Remember What Happened 18 Years Ago

Wed 9-11-2019

(Spencer)-- It's only fitting that as we observe the somber anniversary of the 911 terror attacks that a special exhibit to remember that tragic day is at this year's Clay County Fair. The 911 mobile exhibit has been traveling all across the U.S. It was made possible in part through funds raised by the Steven Sillars Tunnels To Towers Foundation. Billy Puck is among those staffing the exhibit at the Clay County Fair...Puck01 

"Steven was a first responder that had gotten off duty at 8:00 am that morning. He was going to meet his brothers to play golf later in the day. As he was driving home the north tower was attacked. He turned around, came back to the fire house. His squad, squad one, had already been dispatched. Steven grabbed his gear, put it in his personal truck. He was driving himself to the towers. When he got to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, that's the tunnel that brings you out of the borough of Brooklyn into lower Manhattan where the towers stood, it was closed. He got out, put his gear on and a full air pack, all of that together is right at 95 pounds, and he ran three and-a-half miles through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to meet his squad at the south tower. Unfortunately Steven, he lost his life that day, but his family wanted to honor him and honor all of the other 342 as well, so they started this exhibit, not only to honor their brother but to honor everyone that lost their life that day."

Puck says a major amount of the funding is raised each year through a run that's held on the last Sunday in September in New York City...Puck02 

"The first year, 2002 when we had it we had about 2,500 people. Last year we had 35,000. We're projected to have well over 40,000 this year. But that enables us to do what we do as a foundation and that is to build smart homes for our catastrophically injured service men and women. All these homes operate from an opp app. They can control their heat and air, lights, appliances, doors, window coverings, entertainment systems, just about the entire home. Their bathrooms are fully automated; they do not need any help whatsoever. Their kitchen cabinets raise and lower as well as their cook tops. So these young men and women that have been injured and have lost limbs can live in a fully functional home just like you and I and they can live independently."

That's in addition to several other programs the foundation supports...Puck03 

"One program is called Smart Homes. We have another one called Gold Star where we're building homes for families that lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all of these are at no cost to them. We give those, give them these homes. And then we have another program, it's called Our First Responder Program. Any first responder loses their life in the line of duty we instantly pay off their mortgage and all their bills. So we do a lot. We like to give back. That's our number one goal."

Puck says for those who are staffing the memorial, there's a lot going through their minds as we pause to remember what happened that day...Puck04 

"We go all over the country with this and people that were alive, they can tell you to the minute of what they did when they found out. And believe it or not we do hear it a lot but that touches our hearts because that's a day that we lost 343 brothers that day and since then we've lost an additional 202 from all 911 related illnesses. It's a given. If you were there in that pile working you're going to be sick. And, you know, we've got to do something to help those guys as well and we do. But being here on that day, that day, we just can't put away, you know. I know I've talked to Jeremy Parsons here who runs the fair and what happened here that day, so it's going to be interesting to see the reactions from the people. I know we're going to do a special ceremony on Wednesday and we have three more additional retired FDNY firefighters who will be here, and each one has a different story. All six were there that day and just to know what they went through, people can't imagine."

The special program will be held at 12 Noon tomorrow (Wed.) at the exhibit, which is open daily at the Clay County Fair from 12 Noon until 6:00 pm.