WATSEKA, Ill. (WCIA) — One exhibit is touring around the country to make sure people never forget a major event in the nation’s history.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation 9/11 Never Forget Mobile exhibit stopped in Watseka Thursday. More than 700 students from around Iroquois county visited it Friday to learn about that day.
“The kids that are coming today wren’t even born then,” said Bob Sapienza, New York City Firefighter. “But they’re the future, they’re the future of America, and they should know about this. Everybody should remember and never forget. That’s what our motto is: Never Forget.”
Those with the city of Watseka hope those who see the exhibit understand that.
“The exhibit serves as a tribute to those lost on September 11, 2001, including the 343 members of the FDNY who made the ultimate sacrifice saving and protecting others in the line of duty,” said Sherry Johnson, Watseka Park District Executive Director.
Sapienza said they weren’t the only ones who died after the terrorist attack.
“Over 3000 civilians were killed that day,” said Sapienza, “and since September 11, over 211 firefighters have died from illnesses they got from being at September 11. And that’s just firefighters. I don’t know how many thousands of civilians have died, or construction workers that were working alongside of us, have died since September 11.”
Sapienza was one of two firefighters with the exhibit Friday. Both were at Ground Zero after the Twin Towers were hit. Sapienza was off duty at the time, but geared up to help out, like many other off duty firefighters that day. The exhibit and the foundation its with is named after one of those firefighters.
“This exhibit started off with a firefighter named Stephen Siller,” said Sapienza. “He ran through the tunnel, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and it’s called Tunnel to the Towers, what this exhibit is called, and he ran through the tunnel to the towers to meet up with his company. And he perished, along with his company. So his family wanted to do something for Stephen in his memory, and started this.”
Besides educating people on the history of September 11, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation also raises money for families of fallen first responders and builds smart homes for injured service members.
To learn more about the foundation, click here.
The exhibit will be at the First Trust and Saving Bank parking lot in Watseka on October 19 and 20. Thirst Street at Route 24 southbound will be closed to through traffic starting Saturday morning, and Cherry Street from Second to Fourth Streets will also be closed.
For our entire interview with New York City Firefighter Bob Sapienza, watch the clip below.