United States

Stephen Siller, a Christian firefighter's moving story on 9/11

Jimmy Chart, a Spaniard who has been living in New York for the past year for work reasons, tells the story of Stephen Gerard Siller, a valuable testimony of dedication to others.

Jimmy Chart-October 10, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes
marines career stephen siller

Photo: a group of Marines at the 2012 edition of the race. ©USArmy

In early September, a co-worker sent an e-mail to my entire team encouraging us to participate in the NYC 5K Tunnel to Towers Race on September 25. This race of just over five kilometers, has become one of the most important events on the city's calendar, since it commemorates the 343 firefighters and all those who died in the 9/11 attack, and especially Stephen Siller. I tell you his story.

Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller was born into a large Catholic family in Queens in 1966. He was the son of Mae and George Siller, and the youngest of seven siblings. At the age of eight, he lost his father, his mother also passing away a year and a half later. He was then raised by his six older siblings, joining the New York City Fire Department after finishing school. Stephen was a member of Brooklyn Squad N.1, one of the most recognized units in the force. 

The morning of 9/11

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Stephen had just finished a long night on call. At 8:46 a.m. on his way by car to a round of golf with his brothers, he received the alert on the "walkie talkie" he always carried with him. The alarm was raised that a plane had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. At that moment, Stephen called his wife Sally and asked her to inform his brothers that he would join their golf game later. He turned around and returned to the Squad 1 station to change and grab his equipment. 

When he arrived with the truck at the entrance to the Battery Tunnel (which connects Brooklyn to Manhattan), it was closed for security reasons. Determined to join his comrades in saving the many people who were trapped in the Twin Towers, he dressed in full firefighter's gear (weighing 27 kg) and ran the 5 km tunnel as fast as he could. He died that same day, aged 34. 

The Christian life of a normal person

Stephen had everything in his life: a wonderful wife, five children and many, many friends. Because his parents were very close to the Franciscan order, they taught him to live by the philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi. Stephen was very fond of the saint's saying "while we have time, let us do good". Stephen is certainly a great example of someone who gives his life for others.

A few days ago took place the race in his honor, which is run by people from all over the world. Many firefighters from all over the country travel to New York to run it in their uniforms. The course is full of flags and the atmosphere is spectacular. 

New Yorkers' annual commemoration of that fateful day also highlights stories of dedication such as Stephen's.

The authorJimmy Chart

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