Today's college freshmen weren’t alive on 9/11, and we’re in danger of letting it fade away from our cultural memory. These 20 stories will inspire all of us to live heroically and never forget this day.
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Iron Light Labs’ 20 for 20 podcast is hosted by Niels Jorgensen, who was there on 9/11 and served nearly 22 years as an FDNY firefighter before having to retire due to leukemia he contracted from cleaning up Ground Zero.
In addition to listening to the 20 for 20 podcast, please consider donating to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, an organization dedicated to honoring the sacrifice of Stephen Siller and all who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Frank Siller: My Brother’s Final Race That Continues to Inspire Millions
FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller ran through a closed tunnel with 60 lbs of gear on his back and gave up his life to save others. Now, hundreds of thousands have raced in his footsteps and tens of millions have been raised for charity in his name. Frank Siller, President of Tunnel to Towers Foundation, tells the story of his brother, an American hero.
David Braca: My Dad Led His Coworkers Praying into Their Deaths
Many had made fun of Al Braca for his faith, but in their final moments he brought light to the darkness that surrounded them. The story of a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, the company which lost the most people on 9/11.
John Feal was a demolition supervisor at Ground Zero. During the cleanup 8,000 pounds of steel dropped on Feal’s foot, leading to partial amputation. After he was denied compensation for his injury by employers, insurance companies, and elected officials, Feal became the leading advocate for 9/11’s victims. He took his historic fight to Washington and with the help of comedian Jon Stewart, they passed a series of laws to ensure that those who’ve sacrificed so much would be taken care of.
Ted Anderson: “You Never Leave A Fallen Comrade Behind, Ever”
Lieutenant Colonel Paul “Ted” Anderson was inside of the Pentagon when it was struck by a plane during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Ted not only helped people escape, but then returned into the burning building to save even more lives, over and over again. If not for his heroic actions that day, dozens more may not have survived the already devastating attack.
Mariah Jacobsen: Discovering My Connection to a 9/11 Hero
Mariah was 16 years old on the morning of 9/11 and had a strange feeling one of her birth parents died in the attack. At 19 she could legally discover who they were, and what she learned was unbelievable. One of her parents would be recognized as one of the greatest heroes of 9/11, saving hundreds if not thousands of lives on that fateful day. Plus, a famous band’s surprising connection to this story.
Shirley Brooks-Jones: I Was Midflight During 9/11… And It Changed My Life
Shirley Brooks-Jones was on one of the 38 planes in the sky during the terrorist attacks and forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland. This small Canadian community of around 14,000 residents welcomed the surprise guests of almost 7,000 passengers and showed them radical love that made Shirley not want to leave. You won’t believe how she returned the favor and how this unintended detour has turned into a never-ending story.
FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer was off duty on 9/11 and felt tremendous survivor’s guilt about the entirety of his on-duty crew dying. Ultimately, he wouldn’t be spared from the wreckage either, getting cancer from the toxins at Ground Zero. But cancer couldn’t stop this wheelchair-bound warrior from racing down the halls of Congress to gracefully urge politicians to take care of 9/11 victims like himself. Ray died at 59 years old in 2017 and Caryn, the love of his life, honors her husband with us.
Brian Clark: I Was One of Only 18 Survivors Where The South Tower Was Struck
The terrorists crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 77 to 85, right where Brian Clark worked. Miraculously, he’s alive to tell his story and also that of a stranger named Stanley Praimnath whose life he saved. The one-time strangers are now great friends and “blood brothers.”
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