In a pre-coronavirus life, Riverside Park on the Saturday closest to September 11 was always filled with participants in the Tunnel to Towers Run & Walk. The annual event pays homage to the nearly 3,000 individuals who lost their lives during the horrific September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, as well as the men and women of the military who continue to make sacrifices every day in the line of duty, carrying on the promise – We Will Never Forget.
This year, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation canceled all in-person events nationwide, and instead hosted a Never Forget Virtual Challenge that began Aug. 14 and runs through Oct. 19. To participate, visit https://tunnel2towers.org/neverforgetvirtualchallenge/.
When members of Do You Give a Ruck, a group of local, like-minded military veterans and supporters, learned that there would not be an in-person gathering here to honor the victims, they decided to dedicate their morning ruck in their memory, dubbing Saturday’s walk ‘Honor the Fallen Ruck.’
The mission of the group is to improve the lives of veterans by raising public awareness and fundraising for organizations whose programs and activities support them. They host biannual fundraising rucks in the spring and fall, and hold practice rucks several times a week for fellowship and to stay in shape.
This special ruck honored victims of the 9/11 attacks, and those who have given their lives to our country since that profound date during the Global War on Terror, explained Charles Jackson, the group’s vice president.
Despite early-morning storm clouds and the threat of downpours, the group was joined by first responders, veterans and civilians, who biked, ran and walked to honor the fallen. Many participated in full gear, just as Stephen Siller did when he headed into danger, running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and to the World Trade Center buildings, where he perished.
All who participated Saturday did so to ensure the remembrance of the 2,977 people who died at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon and a field outside of Shanksville, Penn. Among them were 343 New York City firefighters and 70 law enforcement/EMTs, all of whom, like Siller, ran toward danger to save lives.
The event also paid homage to the thousands of American servicemen and women who perished in Iraq, Afghanistan and continuing conflicts, as well as those who have come home with debilitating physical and mental injuries.
“The Global War on Terrorism has been running for almost 20 years now,” said Jimmy Lee Jackson, Do You Give a Ruck founder. “A lot of us watched the Twin Towers collapse when we were children. That was a pivotal point in a lot of our lives. Whether we lost family members there, or it put us in the direction of serving in the military. It’s important to keep the tradition of honoring the fallen who sacrificed their lives.”
For more information, visit doyougivearuck.com.