Brother of Fallen Firefighter Has Made It His Life's Mission To Take Care of Those Who Serve Us
SHANKSVILLE, Pennsylvania -- The first thing you notice about Frank Siller is the resolve in his mission. Each step he takes along Shanksville Road on the outskirts of this Somerset County town is done with purpose.
The sound the steps make is a forward motion; there is no hint of retreat.
You can imagine it is a trait he shared with his brother Stephen who, 20 years ago in his capacity as New York City firefighter, went running toward the burning World Trade Center twin towers in the early moments following the deadly terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Siller is walking toward the national park that honors the Flight 93 passengers who made the conscious decision that beautiful, cloudless day to do whatever it took to save others who were in harm's way.
It was a decision that sacrificed their own lives to save others, Siller said.
"Those were the first heroes in the first war on terrorism," he said. "They were the first people, like my brother, who ran towards fellow Americans in distress. They carry that same human spirit (as) the men and women who signed up to go to Afghanistan and Iraq."
They also have the same spirit the men and women in blue do.
"They put their lives on the line every day for people like you and me," he said as we walked the steep climbs of the winding roads connecting the towns, farmlands and coal mines that dot the Appalachian region.
As the cars and pickup trucks pass him along the road, they wave, shout, "Thank you," or tell him to "never forget." And, of course, he won't. He has made that his life mission.
He gets the same reaction from people sitting on their stoop or front porch or hanging their laundry outside. The roads and streets are lined with American flags, not because they know Siller is coming, not because of the 20th anniversary -- but because in places like this, in middle America, they always do that.