By Steve Svetovich
The late Stephen Siller is a hero in every sense of the word.,
And Dunmore will acknowledge this Saturday, Sept. 11.
The late New York City firefighter who tried to rescue others but died at The Twin Towers Sept. 11, 2001, will be recognized on the outside grounds of Dunmore High School,at Dunmore Veterans Memorial Stadium Saturday, Sept. 11, at 8 a.m,
Stephen Gerard Siller was the youngest of seven children born to Mae and George Siller. At age eight, he lost his father, and a year-and-a-half later his mother passed away, leaving him an orphan to be raised by older siblings.
Despite a period of struggles, but thanks to the love of his siblings, he grew up to be a dedicated firefighter.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Stephen, age 35, who was assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got word over his scanner of a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Upon hearing the news, Stephen called his wife Sally and asked her to tell his brothers he would catch up with them later. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear.
The veteran firefighter drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back, and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he gave up his life while saving others.
Stephen had everything to live for. He had a wonderful wife, five beautiful children, a devoted extended family and friends. His life and heroic death serve as a reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good deeds. That is his legacy.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others. It also honors our military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.
Ty Holmes, 52, from Summit, N.J., is bringing an event to honor Siller and fellow 9-11 first responders to Dunmore on Saturday, Sept. 11. His wife, the former Margie Piepoli, a 1993 Dunmore High School graduate, was instrumental in making the arrangements along with John Marichak, superintendent of Dunmore schools, and the Dunmore School Board.,
“This event is always held in New York City around the Twin Towers each Sept. 11,” said Holmes. “However, it has been tempered down due to COVID, so we asked to have the event in Dunmore to remember Stephen Siller and all of those who died that terrible day.”
Holmes is a 25-year retired military man, having served 15 years in the U.S. Army and 10 years in the U.S. Navy earning the rank of master sergeant.
Holmes said Siller’s final words,as he was running up the tower to save anyone he could, were, “My brothers are in there,” a reference to his fellow firefighters.
“In the midst of tragedy,” said Holmes, “heroes emerge. We cannot let 20 years go by without acknowledging that.”
Holmes said in New York City to commemorate the event “we go to the exact path Stephen walked.”
At 8:46 a.m. taps is performed to honor Siller and the others who bravely died that day. The significance of 8:46 is the exact time the Twin Towers were first struck.
“We are extremely grateful to Dunmore to host this event for us. The event in New York City was modified due to COVID, so Dunmore was receptive. We are requesting Dunmore and Scranton police and firefighters to attend. We will have speakers who will discuss how 9-11 affected them, where they were at the time and how life has changed for them since then. A firefighter from New York City will speak.”
Holmes said taps will be played in Dunmore at 8:46 a.m. The tradition is also to walk 14 laps, the same distance Siller ran from his car to the Twin Towers. A total of 2,997 flags will be placed around Dunmore Veterans Memorial Stadium to honor and represent each victim from the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy.
The 13 United States soldiers who were tragically killed in Afghanistan will be remembered through a Mission Man Table. “This will honor those no longer with us. We will have a memorial for our fallen soldiers.”
The Bell football game will follow at 2 p.m.
“It tells you a lot about the Dunmore School District who went above and beyond for us. The school superintendent, John Marichak, has been extremely helpful. This is a Veteran’s Visions event. It is also open to the public. We begin at 8 a.m.”