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We will not forget
It’s been 19 years since two planes leveled the World Trade Center.

Remembering those lost 19 years ago, Americans will be commemorating Sept. 11, 2001 on Friday with somber tributes, volunteer projects and new monuments to victims. 

In Warren County, a ceremony is being held Friday morning by Wild Bill’s BBQ in a partnership with Tunnel to Towers Middle Tennessee. The times of 8:46 a.m. and 10:28 a.m. will be noted with moments of silence – those are the times are when planes struck the World Trade Center and when the towers collapsed.

“I absolutely love the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and its mission,” said Joey Clark, who bought that national organization into Warren County. “I also love being part of anything that has to do with 9-11. I’d like to thank Wild Bill’s for hosting this event and allowing us to be part of it. I’m extremely proud of the way the community is embracing this event and helping it grow.”

Clark is employed by Warren County EMS and volunteers at Centertown Fire Department. He participated in a Tunnel to Towers race in New York City in 2018 and felt a strong passion for the organization and offering it in Warren County. 

“Friday’s 9-11 event will be, most importantly, to remember the day,” said Clark. “It will also be used to bring awareness to this organization and what it does. I’ll be there to answer any questions people might have about it.” 

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors the sacrifice of its namesake and the more than 300 first-responders who were killed Sept. 11, 2001. 

“The foundation was started by the family of firefighter Stephen Siller, who was killed on 9-11,” said Clark. “The reason it’s called the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is because he was assigned to squad one, which is one of the special operation units of the New York City Fire Departments based in Brooklyn. He got off duty that morning. When he found out what happened, he came back. When he got to the firehouse, his truck was already gone. He grabbed his equipment, put it in his car and went.”

The off-duty firefighter made it to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Tunnel to Towers took its name from what he did next. 

“When he couldn’t drive any further, he grabbed all his gear – about 60 pounds – put it on his back and ran from the tunnels to the towers,” said Clark. “He found the rest of his company. They all went in and they all died. The foundation was started by his family in his memory. It’s a nationwide foundation. We have the Middle Tennessee chapter of it right here in McMinnville.”

Siller, 34, was married and had five children.

Funds raised are used to build homes for catastrophically injured veterans and pay off mortgages of fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty who leave behind young children. The foundation’s goal is to ensure stability and security to these families facing sudden, tragic loss.

Because the organization is mainly volunteers such as himself, Clark says 93 cents of every $1 raised goes straight to the mission.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the event which starts Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. at Wild Bill’s BBQ, 3340 Sparta Highway. Owner Bill Davis says he’s making a donation to Tunnel to Towners Middle Tennessee and he challenges other business owners in the area to do the same. 

For more information, or to make a donation, attend the event or visit Tunnel to Towers Middle Tennessee on Facebook.